Bill Madden is still talking about Alex Rodriguez for some reason

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It’s almost admirable to see a guy who has been as wrong on an issue as Bill Madden of the Daily News has been on A-Rod keep plugging away at it anyway.

Over the summer Madden reported that A-Rod was looking for a way to retire. He did not retire. He reported that A-Rod was physically disabled and would likely take a disablement retirement. He came back anyway. Madden said he was done as a baseball player and would be a distraction. A-Rod played pretty well there for a while and basically disappeared from the headlines as the Yankees played their best baseball of the season. I mean, he’s the equivalent of, like, 0-for-130 when it comes to handicapping Alex Rodriguez’s situation.

Yet he carries on nonetheless! Yesterday he wrote that A-Rod is freaked out about his upcoming hearing, that the hearing is the reason he’s finishing poorly and, well, just look:

…According to one source in the know, despite his blowhard lawyer Joe Tacopina’s bravado that Rodriguez doesn’t deserve even one day of suspension, A-Rod “is terrified” about the hearing on his 211-game drug suspension that begins Monday in New York. According to the source, that might partly explain the recent 3-for-17 (.081) slump in which he’s looked so helpless … He needs to get a grip on reality — which is that he’s finished as a player and guilty as charged as a serial steroids cheat. His best option now is to try and make a deal with MLB, so at least all the lurid details of just how guilty he is and how much he betrayed Don Hooton’s kids may never come out.

That comes after paragraphs in which Madden gives uncritical and unchallenged voice to “baseball people” hating on A-Rod for being unselfish and not just taking his ridiculous 211-game suspension without question. I mean he could have, I dunno, speculated what might have happened if A-Rod was given a more proportional suspension rather than been forced into an appeal by MLB, but that would totally kill his A-Rod is the Antichrist schtick.

Oh, and as for that “A-Rod should make a deal” stuff? That kinda flies in the face of Madden’s “MLB will not make a deal with A-Rod” stuff from a month or two ago.

But keep on fighting the good fight, Bill. As anyone in a serious slump will tell you, you just gotta play through it.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.