T.J. Simers sues the Los Angeles Times

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We followed the drama between T.J. Simers and the Los Angeles Times as it was going on over the summer. Now it’s reached a new level: Simers has sued the Times.

But Simers is not content to let this be about technical procedures followed (or not) in his termination. He says the Times told him to lay off then-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt:

Simers says his troubles began in 2011 after McCourt met with Times publisher Eddie Hartenstein. Simers claims he was told he might lose his job if he wrote about a charity close to his heart, the Mattel Children’s Charity. He says he learned he was warned to stay off the subject because of concerns that he was encouraging Dodgers players to donate to Mattel instead of to McCourt’s Dodgers charity. Simers says he and three other writers were told not to write pieces critical of McCourt.

I feel like there were a thousand good reasons to fire Simers, but if this is true the Times picked one pretty bad one. How can you have a reputation as a legitimate newspaper if you tell your staff not to cover the sports teams in your very own city?

That said: the accusation seems pretty hollow. I followed coverage of Frank McCourt closer than anyone out side of L.A. I bet and there were multiple writers at the Times who were absolutely brutal in covering McCourt. In a fair way, given the kind of ammo McCourt gave them. Bill Shaikin, for example, was all over McCourt for months and years on end, for example.

Of course there are other allegations as well, some relating to Simers’ health, so you have to figure that this is a “throw as much as one can at the suit and hope to settle well” kind of thing, as most wrongful termination cases, especially high-profile ones, don’t see a courtroom.

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.