Sid Bream declines Braves’ request to throw out the first pitch

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For Pirates fans old enough to remember the 1992 NLCS, former Braves first baseman Sid Bream still haunts their memories. The image of Francisco Cabrera lining Stan Belinda’s pitch to left field, of Barry Bonds’ throw being to the right of home plate, of catcher Mike LaValliere reaching for it and diving back to tag Bream, of Bream’s foot hitting home plate just a split-second before the tag. It was the last we heard of the Pirates until this year.

The Pirates ended their playoff drought and, if they win their Wild Card play-in game against the Reds (assuming, of course, that the Cardinals clinch the NL Central title), they just might match up against the Braves in the NLDS. Knowing this, the Braves asked Bream if he would like to throw out the first pitch before a Pirates-Braves playoff match-up. Bream declined, reports Rob Biertempfel.

“Whatever their motive (for the invite) was, I don’t want to be involved,” Bream said Friday by phone.[…]“I wasn’t surprised (by the offer),” Bream said. “Whether their motive was to rub it in the Pirates’ faces, I don’t know. I think it was just more of a gesture to commemorate those two teams getting back together in the postseason. But I’ll stay neutral. I’m not going to do anything to tell the fans in Atlanta or Pittsburgh that I’m (rooting) one way or the other.”

Bream played for the Pirates from September 1985 through the 1990 season. In December 1990, he signed with the Braves as a free agent, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Relive Bream’s unforgettable moment below:

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.