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Rays sign Jack Cust to minor league contract


From Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times comes word that the Rays have agreed to a minor league contract with free agent outfielder Jack Cust.

The deal comes with an invitation to spring training, where Cust will attempt to earn a backup role.

Cust spent the entire 2012 season at the Triple-A level, batting .243/.400/.442 with 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 72 RBI in 493 plate appearances between affiliates of the Yankees and Blue Jays.

The 10-year major league veteran registered a .213/.344/.329 batting line with three home runs, 15 doubles and 23 RBI over 270 plate appearances with Seattle in 2011. He is a .242/.374/.439 career hitter in the bigs.

Red Sox ask Hanley Ramirez to report 15-20 pounds lighter next spring

Hanley Ramirez
The Associated Press
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Hanley Ramirez was a complete failure in left field this season in Boston and he batted just .249/.291/.426 while appearing in only 105 games. Ben Cherington, the man that signed him to a four-year, $88 million free agent contract, is no longer with the Red Sox. It’s time for some tough love …

Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo, who just inked a two-year extension to return as John Farrell’s bench coach, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Sunday that Hanley has been asked to drop 15-20 pounds over the offseason. There have been similar conversations with Boston’s other free agent failure, Pablo Sandoval.

Ramirez is expected to start at first base for the Red Sox in 2016.

Video: Clayton Kershaw notches his 300th strikeout

Clayton Kershaw
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Clayton Kershaw entered Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Padres needing six strikeouts to become the first pitcher in 13 years to whiff 300 batters in a single season.

He did it within the first nine batters of the game, whiffing Yangervis Solarte, Clint Barmes, Austin Hedges, and Travis Jankowski once each and Melvin Upton Jr. on two different occasions.

Here was the milestone matchup against Upton Jr. with two outs in the top of the third …

The last pitchers to reach 300 strikeouts in a season were Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They did so as teammates on the 2002 Diamondbacks.

Kershaw is lined up to face the Mets in Game 1 of the NLDS.