tanner scheppers getty

Cops, witness say Tanner Scheppers ‘lost a bar fight’

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Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers told reporters he was sucker-punched by a group of males after having dinner on Thursday night in Cleveland, thus explaining his suddenly-bruised left eye and the cuts on his face. But that might not be the actual story.

A witness to Scheppers’ supposed sucker punch told Clevescene.com that the incident happened at 2:30 a.m. — not anywhere near dinner time — and that Scheppers was accompanied by teammates Joe Nathan and A.J. Pierzynski, along with “a bunch of girls.” Scheppers, according to the witness, was a “verbal instigator” and there was some jawing back and forth for a few minutes before a punch got thrown.

“He lost a bar fight,” the witness, whose exact level of involvement is unclear, explained to Vince Grzegorek of Clevescene.com on Sunday morning. “He had 10 chances to walk away before this happened.”

The 6-foot-4 right-hander will undoubtedly have to field questions about this account of the incident on Sunday evening, after the Rangers wrap up their weekend series against the Indians at Progressive Field.

Scheppers, 26, has an impressive 1.74 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 46 2/3 innings of relief this season.

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UPDATE, 5:21 p.m. ET: Here’s a statement from the Cleveland Police, via the Dallas Morning News:

“The preliminary investigation reveals that on Friday, July 26, at approximately 2:30 a.m. Texas Ranger pitcher Tanner Scheppers was involved in a physical altercation at Panini’s Bar located on W. 6th Street. Further investigation reveals that the altercation was called in by Downtown Alliance workers and that Third District officers responded to the scene to investigate. Once on scene officers attempted to get information from Scheppers for a report however, he refused to provide information and refused to make a police report. Further, officers called for EMS and he refused medical attention and EMS was disregarded. The officers then conveyed Scheppers and another male to the Ranger’s team hotel.”

Orioles re-sign Paul Janish to minor league deal

SARASOTA, FL - FEBRUARY 28:  Paul Janish #15 of the Baltimore Orioles poses during photo day at Ed Smith Stadium on February 28, 2016 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Orioles signed free agent shortstop Paul Janish to another minor league deal on Saturday, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The contract includes an invite to spring training.

It’s hardly a surprising move for the Orioles, who have released and re-signed the 34-year-old infielder to multiple minor league deals over the past two years. A perennial Triple-A player, Janish slashed .242/.282/.303 with four doubles and a .585 OPS in two campaigns and 28 games with the Orioles. While he won’t be in line for a full-time role in the majors this season, he profiles as a solid defender and should give the team some infield depth alongside fellow veteran infielders Robert Andino, Johnny Giavotella and Chris Johnson.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.