It’s not the “Rail Riders” because that doesn’t catch that 21st century vibe of silly, mashed together words to make things old-timey seem all fresh and new. You know, like HardballTalk.
Anyway, it’s the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. And just because they don’t care what you think, their logo is a giant, angry porcupine on railroad tracks:
And the explanation:
The team name was selected after fans suggested over 2,700 different names in a month-long name-the-team contest. The RailRiders moniker pays homage to the very first trolley system in America, one created right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
A porcupine conductor, the gritty critter that calls NEPA home, is at the centerpiece of the identity. Fans will enjoy the classic lettering and trolley tracks, combined with various porcupine, conductor and electric marks.
No word if “enjoy the porcupine” is the new team motto. But it should be. I mean, if you’re gonna try this hard to put the minor back in minor leagues, you may as well go all out.
(thanks to Gary for the heads up)
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”