Chevrolet Home Run Derby

Yoenis Cespedes puts on a first round show in the Home Run Derby

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Following the Home Run Derby from on-site is … weird. It’s a made for TV event, really. And when you’re sitting out behind the left field foul pole in a temporary press box that is sort of insulated from the sounds of the ballpark you lose your gravity pretty quickly. I had the MLB.com feed on for a while but it was on a delay. Then they started pumping some foreign language broadcast of it. Eventually they caved and gave us Chris Berman. Back-back-back and, really, most of the writers here would be better following this on TV from home. Perhaps with the sound off. It’s be the same product for us with the added bonus that our employers would not have to pay for our dinner.

I got a steak sandwich from Pat LaFrieda’s, by the way. It was glorious. Thanks, NBC.

Anyway, the first round happened. Here are the results:

Yoenis Cespedes: 17
Chris Davis: 8
Bryce Harper: 8
Michael Cuddyer: 7
Pedro Alvarez: 6
Prince Fielder: 5
David Wright: 5
Robinson Cano: 4

Cespedes’ performance was pretty impressive. Lots of long shots. Seemed to have a much better groove than anyone, and his total certainly reflects that. Bryce Harper’s advancing was somewhat surprising given that his dad — who pitched to him — was busting him inside a lot. Probably a lot of latent family issues there.

Cespedes, Davis, Harper and Cuddyer are now in the second round. Cespedes’ first round total almost ensures him a trip to the finals, but we’ll see. This thing will eventually end. And since it started with a performance by Pitbull, it will end better than it began.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.