Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez is making “fantastic” progress in his rehab from hip surgery

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The last we heard on Alex Rodriguez, he was set to face live pitching for the first time since his January hip surgery. As he continues to ramp up baseball activities, his rehab is apparently going off without a hitch. In fact, he’s receiving rave reviews for his progress.

Here’s the skinny from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman:

Alex Rodriguez’s recent progress is said by people around the Yankees to have been dramatic, with one person calling it “fantastic” and another even speculating A-Rod could possibly begin to play rehab games just after the All-Star break.

There have been dire predictions about A-Rod’s future based on the circumstances of a player in his late 30s undergoing two major hip surgeries and all the rest of his history. But one Yankees person, hearing of his recent progress, marveled Wednesday about Rodriguez.

“He may beat everyone back,” the Yankees person said, meaning all the many other injured Yankees.

Of course, that’s assuming Rodriguez doesn’t receive a suspension for his alleged connection to Biogenesis first.

While many Yankees fans would like to see Rodriguez gone, he suddenly looks like a potential upgrade now that Kevin Youkilis is at risk of missing the rest of the season following back surgery. Entering play tonight, New York’s third baseman were tied for last in the AL in home runs and ranked 23rd in the majors in slugging percentage and 22nd in OPS.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.