Diamondbacks add Steve Sax, Turner Ward to coaching staff

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Arizona announced a pair of coaching hires, adding Turner Ward as assistant hitting coach and Steve Sax as first base coach.

Don Baylor is the Diamondbacks’ primary hitting coach, but they’re joining the rapidly expanding list of teams with two people devoted to the job. Ward previously managed at Double-A in Arizona’s farm system.

Sax has never coached professionally before, but during his 14-year career the five-time All-Star second baseman was teammates with Kirk Gibson on the Dodgers. Steve Gilbert of MLB.com notes that Sax “worked in finance and made some television appearances” along with authoring a motivational book. He’ll replace Eric Young and as part of the job Sax will coach the Diamondbacks on baserunning.

General manager Kevin Towers told Gilbert that Sax was chosen over Triple-A manager Brett Butler, calling it “a tough decision, a hard decision.”

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.