Giants strike deal with Japanese infielder Kensuke Tanaka

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From John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle comes word that the Giants are “closing in on signing” Japanese second baseman Kensuke Tanaka to a minor league contract. The deal is expected to include an invitation to spring training, where Tanaka will be in the running for a utility job.

The 31-year-old batted .300/.350/.363 with three home runs, 14 doubles, three triples and 32 RBI in 505 plate appearances last season for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League.

Tanaka also stole 13 bases in 22 attempts.

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UPDATE, 10:45 PM: Shea reports that the minor league contract has now been made official.

Umpire admits he blew the call that got Joe Maddon ejected last night

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Last night in the top of the eighth inning of the Dodgers-Cubs game, Curtis Granderson struck out. Or, at the very least, he should’ve. After the game, the umpire who said he didn’t admitted he screwed up.

While trying to squelch a Dodgers comeback, Wade Davis got Granderson into a 2-2 count. Davis threw his pitch, Granderson whiffed on it, it hit the dirt, and Willson Contreras applied the tag for the out. End of the inning, right? Wrong: Granderson argued to home plate umpire Jim Wolf that he made slight contact with the ball, Wolf, after conferring with the other umps agreed, and Granderson lived to see another pitch.

Before he’d see that pitch, Joe Maddon came out to argue the call and got so agitated about it all he was ejected for the second time in this series. He was right to argue:

It all ended up not mattering, of course, because Granderson struck out eventually anyway.

Normally such things end there, but after the game a reporter got to Wolf and Wolf did something umpires don’t often do: he admitted he blew the call:

It’s good that the bad call ended up not affecting anything. But the part of me who likes to stir up crap and watch chaos rule in baseball really kinda wishes that Granderson had hit a series-clinching homer right after that. At least as long as it didn’t result in Cubs fans burning Chicago to the ground.