Finally some positive news out of Yankees camp.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, veteran shortstop Derek Jeter was given “final clearance” on Thursday afternoon in North Carolina from the doctor that performed his ankle surgery in late October. In other words, Jeter is free to perform all baseball-related activities and can begin playing in Grapefruit League games without any restrictions.
The Yankees have said that Jeter will make his spring debut on March 10 — this Sunday — against the Blue Jays. And they can now stick to that date with a good amount of confidence that everything will go smoothly.
Jeter batted .316/.362/.429 with 15 home runs, 58 RBI and 99 runs scored over 159 games last season for New York. The 38-year-old will probably make close to 50 plate appearances in the Grapefruit League.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.