Adam LaRoche accepts two-year deal from Nationals

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Adam LaRoche was holding out for three years and the Nationals were steadfast in sticking with a two-year offer. Today the free agent first baseman decided that was good enough, as Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that LaRoche has agreed to a two-year deal to return to Washington.

Having draft pick compensation attached to his free agency no doubt hurt LaRoche, who couldn’t secure a three-year deal and seemingly had trouble generating many two-year offers despite hitting .271 with 33 homers and an .853 OPS last season.

Now that LaRoche is back in the fold the Nationals are expected to shop Michael Morse, who had been slated to replace him at first base if needed. Instead with LaRoche at first base, Denard Span is center field, and Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the outfield corners there’s no room for Morse to play following a season in which he hit .291 with 18 homers and a .791 OPS in 102 games.

Morse is three years younger than LaRoche and out-played him in 2010 and 2011, but he’s also just one year from free agency and should have some decent trade value.

UPDATE: Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports that LaRoche’s two-year deal is worth $24 million guaranteed, which includes a $2 million buyout of a third-year team option.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

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.