Denard Span’s mom is a great hitting coach

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Outfielder Denard Span has not had a great first year with the Washington Nationals. Acquired from the Twins in the off-season for pitching prospect Alex Meyer, the Nats expected Span to be a threat on the bases and provide some occasional power. Span, however, entered this afternoon’s game against the Royals hitting .264 with just two home runs and 11 stolen bases in 17 attempts.

Span’s mother texted her son last night with some sage hitting advice. Via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

As the tweet notes, Span homered in the seventh inning today against Royals starter Ervin Santana. Span also swung at the first pitch from Santana in the top of the third inning and singled, and got another hit on the first pitch in the ninth against Royals closer Greg Holland. He finished the day 4-for-5, raising his batting average to .270 in the process.

You may recall that Mrs. Span had been in the news previously when Denard inadvertently hit her with a foul ball during a spring training game against the Yankees in 2010.

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.