Alex Rodriguez homers in rehab game in Trenton, vows to “keep fighting”

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Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, recovering from a grade 1 quadriceps strain, continued his laborious climb back to the Majors in tonight’s rehab game with the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Facing Phillies top prospect Jesse Biddle of the Reading Fightin Phils in the third inning, Rodriguez hit a long home run to left field. ESPN’s Andrew Marchand writes that left fielder Kelly Dugan didn’t even bother to move as the ball quickly sailed beyond the fence. In his only other at-bat, he struck out looking at a curve from Biddle. The Thunder went on to win 6-2.

Speaking to the media after the game, Rodriguez said he will play on Monday when the Yankees open up a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox. He added that he thinks he can play another five years, which would take him into his mid-40’s.

Rodriguez also spoke about “entities” conspiring to prevent him from playing baseball. He was asked why he thinks he is being singled out, to which he replied, “I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. I think that’s the pink elephant in the room.” Later, he said, “When all this stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract, that’s concerning for me.”

Rodriguez is among a handful of players expected to be suspended by Major League Baseball. Details will be revealed on Monday. Players have until 6 PM ET Sunday to settle with MLB. Rodriguez promised to “keep fighting“.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.