Hideki Okajima went back to Japan last season after spending five years with the Red Sox, but the 37-year-old reliever said recently that he’s looking to return to MLB and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A’s are interested.
Okajima spent most of his final Red Sox season at Triple-A and would almost surely have to settle for a minor-league contract at this point, but the left-hander was ridiculously good in Japan last year with a 0.94 ERA in 48 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
His overall ERA with the Red Sox was 3.11 in 246 innings and opponents hit just .238 off Okajima. Last offseason he signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees, but it was voided because of an undisclosed physical issue and led to his returning to Japan.
Mets’ outfielder Curtis Granderson has been named the 2016 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, an annual distinction bestowed on the major league players whose dedication to the game of baseball is evident both on and off the field.
Granderson is the 47th recipient of the award since its introduction in 1971, and, according to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, the fourth Met honored with the distinction following former members Gary Carter (1989), Al Leiter (2000), and Carlos Delgado (2006).
The 35-year-old contributed 30 home runs and a .237/.355/.464 line during the Mets’ 87-75 run in 2016, but it was his work off the field that set him apart. Over the past six years, Granderson helped fund a new baseball facility at his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and partnered with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to combat childhood obesity. He has also been recognized for donations to the YMCA, United Neighborhood Houses, and City Harvest, among other charitable organizations. Most notably, he founded the Grand Kids Foundation, an organization that has furthered the education, fitness, and health of kids living in Chicago since 2007.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recognized Granderson’s efforts in a brief ceremony preceding Game 3 of the World Series:
Curtis Granderson is an outstanding ambassador for our game and a positive role model for kids. His commitment to the many communities that have touched his life and the great impact of these efforts makes him a very deserving recipient of our most prestigious award. On behalf of Major League Baseball and all of our clubs, I congratulate Curtis and thank him and all of our nominees this year for everything they do to make a difference in the lives of others.
We all get inspiration from various sources. Sometimes, it comes from a mentor or peer who has excelled in their field. Sometimes, it’s a video of a dog owner dressing up as his golden retriever’s favorite chew toy (just me? Okay).
If you’re Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon, it’s Michael Scott, regional manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, Inc., founder of the Michael Scott Paper Company, and one-time star of the hit television show Fundle Bundle. At least, that’s what he told the press during the club’s pregame conference on Friday afternoon.
Thankfully, the Cubs don’t have to worry about Maddon emulating the more outlandish behaviors Steve Carell exhibited on The Office. If anything, the praise Michael heaps on himself as the World’s Best Boss could be aptly applied to Maddon’s managerial style — Spencer Gifts mug and all.