bruce bochy and dusty baker

NLDS Game 4 lineups: Giants vs. Reds

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source: Getty Images

Here are the lineups for Game 4 of the NLDS between the Giants and Reds, in Cincinnati:

   SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS           CINCINNATI REDS
1. Angel Pagan, CF             1. Brandon Phillips, 2B
2. Marco Scutaro, 2B           2. Zack Cozart, SS
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B          3. Joey Votto, 1B
4. Buster Posey, 1B            4. Ryan Ludwick, LF
5. Hunter Pence, RF            5. Jay Bruce, RF
6. Hector Sanchez, C           6. Todd Frazier, 3B
7. Gregor Blanco, LF           7. Dioner Navarro, C
8. Brandon Crawford, SS        8. Drew Stubbs, CF
9. Barry Zito, SP              9. Mike Leake, SP

The big story for this game is that Johnny Cueto was removed from the Reds’ playoff roster with a strained oblique muscle and has been replaced by Mike Leake, who’ll start Game 4 on two weeks rest. Leake tossed a one-run complete game against the Giants during the regular season, but was mediocre enough overall that the Reds opted to leave him off the postseason roster.

In addition to the Cueto/Leake switch manager Dusty Baker has made a pair of lineup changes, benching Scott Rolen for Todd Frazier at third base and Ryan Hanigan for Dioner Navarro at catcher. Our own Matthew Pouliot wrote last night that it was time for Rolen to take a seat and even before his Game 3 error plenty of Reds fans were clamoring for Frazier.

Bruce Bochy made a change to the Giants’ lineup, giving Buster Posey a day off from catching by shifting him to first base and inserting Hector Sanchez behind the plate at the expense of Brandon Belt. Not only is Barry Zito on the Giants’ playoff roster after being left off in 2010, he got the Game 4 starting nod over Tim Lincecum. Imagine telling a Giants fan that was going to happen back in spring training.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.