Joe Maddon pokes Bobby Valentine. And it’s kind of a cheap shot.

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One of the subjects that came up in the instantly infamous Bobby Valentine interview today was the allegation that he was late to a game in Oakland last weekend, when he apparently showed up just after 4pm for a 7PM game.

This led to Valentine defending himself over the charge, noting that he was picking up his son at the airport and that all of his pregame work was done and everyone knew were he was. Then he added “Joe Maddon gets there everyday at 4 o’clock, just for the record.”

A few minutes ago Maddon decided to poke at Valentine over this, tweeting thusly:

I guess a little chuckle is in order on the principle that the bar for yuks is really low when sports figures are involved. But really, I have to side with Valentine on this one.  He’s not having a great season, but that lateness charge sounds like a bunch of crap someone is trying to stir up for no good reason.  Out of pure professional courtesy to a counterpart, you’d think Maddon would have some sympathy for all of that.

All of which flows into my general take on the Bobby Valentine experience this year.  No, he hasn’t helped himself one iota, but this situation was doomed from the get-go given the manner in which his predecessor was fired and Valentine himself was hired. Then add in an injured, underperforming team and a media market that just likes to watch the world burn, and the guy never had a chance.

Valentine is a big boy and will be just fine once this nightmare season is over, but Maddon’s pile on — even if it was meant in a spirit of whimsy rather than snark — is a bit cheap in my view.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.