This is obviously related to the Matt Garza news.
According to MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, Cubs manager Dale Sveum announced Sunday morning in camp that Jeff Samardzija will get the nod on Opening Day — Monday, April 1 — against the Pirates. Garza would have been given the honor, but he has been ruled out until May with a left lat strain.
Samardzija, a former wide receiver at the University of Notre Dame, posted an excellent 3.81 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 28 outings in 2012 — his first full season as a major league starting pitcher. He also racked up a total of 180 strikeouts in 174 2/3 innings.
The talented 28-year-old right-hander was a fifth-round pick of the Cubs in 2006.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.
The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.
Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.
President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.