Sabathia Reuters

CC Sabathia downplays concerns over diminished velocity

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CC Sabathia allowed four runs on eight hits and four walks over five innings in today’s season-opening 8-2 loss to the Red Sox. In doing so, the big southpaw topped out at just 91.7 mph on his fastball (according to Brooks Baseball) and relied heavily on his changeup to get outs. However, he told Mark Feinsend of the New York Daily News that he’s not concerned about the radar gun right now.

“I feel good. The arm strength will be building up as the season goes on but health wise I feel fine. I’ll keep working in the bullpen and just try to get better.

“I’m sure that the velocity will keep coming back and the arm strength will keep building up the more I throw. Health-wise, I feel fine, elbow, shoulder and everything. It’s just time I guess to build the arm strength back up.

“It’s always what it is at the beginning of the year, 88 to 92. That’s what I’ll work with right now and hopefully it gets a little better.”

Sabathia, 32, averaged 92.3 mph on his heater last season and 93.8 mph in 2011. To be fair, he is coming off elbow surgery and is typically a slow starter, so it’s probably way too soon to panic. But his velocity figures to be a prominent topic of conversation during his upcoming starts.

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Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.