Rays sticking with washed-up, .147-hitting Hideki Matsui

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Tampa Bay called up Hideki Matsui last month despite his hitting just .170 in 13 games at Triple-A, so the fact that they’re now sticking with him despite his hitting .147 in 34 games in the majors follows that same line of (weird) thinking.

Matsui is 38 years old and hasn’t been healthy and productive in the same season since 2010, but for some reason the Rays’ decision-makers remain convinced that he has something left in the tank even when evidence to the contrary continues to pile up.

In addition to hitting .147 he has an ugly 22/8 K/BB ratio with just two homers in 103 plate appearances and has been particularly brutal in key spots, going 2-for-22 (.091) in “close and late” situations. Toss in his total lack of defensive value and … well, the whole situation is pretty confusing.

Here’s how manager Joe Maddon tried to explain the ongoing faith in Matsui:

You have a man of his caliber, a man of his esteem on the bench right there. I know he’s been struggling but at any moment it could possibly pop up and bite you in a good way.

Dating back to the beginning of last season Matsui has hit .235 with a .305 on-base percentage and .361 slugging percentage in 175 games and he was terrible in a two-week stint at Triple-A. While the Rays and Maddon wait for Matsui to “pop up and bite you in a good way” he’s costing them runs and games.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.