Yankees release outfielder Matt Diaz

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As first reported by the YES Network, the Yankees have officially cut ties with outfielder Matt Diaz, who was in camp this spring on a minor league contract.

Diaz went 6-for-30 (.200/.250/.200) this year in the Grapefruit League, netting zero extra-base hits. The 35-year-old will hope to catch on with a new team that is willing to give him a shot at a bench spot.

The release of Diaz increases the odds of Ben Francisco cracking the Yankees’ Opening Day roster as a backup outfielder. Brennan Boesch is expected to start in left field until Curtis Granderson (forearm) returns and Juan Rivera is likely to take the majority of starts at first base until Mark Teixeira (wrist) is ready. Go Bombers?

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.