Teen befriended by Matt Kemp passes away

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Sad news to pass along courtesy of our friends at Yahoo! Sports. Joshua Jones, the young fan who was be befriended by Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp earlier this year, has passed away following a battle with brain cancer. He was just 19 years old.

It was hard not to be touched when Kemp gave Jones his jersey, hat and cleats following a game in San Francisco on May 5. Video of the good deed quickly went viral.

Kemp’s relationship with Jones didn’t end there. Later that month, he flew Jones and his family from Oakland to see a Dodgers game in Los Angeles, during which he had the opportunity to meet other stars, including Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.

Laelah Quintor, Jones’ aunt on his mother’s side, told Yahoo! Sports that the generosity from Kemp and others gave the teen “hope again.”

This story — like Bryce Harper’s 13-year-old friend, Gavin Rupp — unfortunately has a sad ending, but Kemp deserves credit for taking a few minutes of his time to make someone’s day. It’s just a reminder of how powerful playing a kid’s game can be. RIP, Joshua.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.