Jim Thome joins White Sox as special assistant to GM

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Jim Thome wanted to keep playing at age 42, but no major-league offers came in and now the future Hall of Famer has joined the White Sox’s front office as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn.

Thome, who played for the White Sox from 2006-2009, will have a role working with both major leaguers and minor leaguers. “I don’t think I could ask for a better situation than being in Chicago and with the White Sox,” Thome said, via Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com.

Thome has always been incredibly popular everywhere he played, so it’s no surprise that the White Sox wanted to bring him aboard, but it’s sort of a shame that he couldn’t find a part-time designated hitter gig for one last run. He hit .252 with a .752 OPS last season, which, just for instance, is a higher OPS than everyone on the White Sox this year except for Alex Rios and Adam Dunn.

One of the greatest power-and-patience sluggers in MLB history, Thome ranks seventh all time in both homers (612) and walks (1,747) while being 20th in OPS (.956).

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.