Ryne Sandberg wants Ryan Howard to get in better shape

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Now that the Phillies have officially named Ryne Sandberg their manager for next season and beyond he’s starting to talk about what he has planned and one of those things is getting first baseman Ryan Howard in better shape.

Howard has always been huge and his conditioning has declined while struggling through injuries the past two seasons, leading Sandberg to tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:

It all starts right now with the games in Florida along with his workout program the whole winter. Him being healthy will allow him to get into baseball shape. I look for him to come back and be a big guy right in the middle of the lineup. I know I’ll have a conversation with him about continuing to have a good work ethic and get the training he needs this winter.

Beyond those comments on Howard’s conditioning, Sandberg also suggested that the former MVP should take more advantage of studying video of opposing pitchers because “from what I’ve gathered, I think he can be better prepared to face somebody to start a baseball game.”

Cubs sign sinkerballer Steve Cishek

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cubs have signed reliever Steve Cishek. No details about the deal are known yet. For what it’s worth, most relievers are signing two-year deals so far this winter and Cishek’s last deal was a two-year pact.

Cishek, 31-year-old sidearmer who throws a surprisingly fast sinkerball, posted a 2.01 ERA and a 41/14 K/BB ratio and allowed just 26 hits in 44.2 innings between the Mariners and Rays last season. He saved 25 games for the M’s in 2016. Last year he missed the first month and a half of the season following hip surgery, but seemed pretty healthy later in the year.

A nice pickup for Chicago.