Mike Matheny

Cardinals manager and former catcher Mike Matheny supports a ban on home plate collisions

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Earlier, D.J. Short informed us that Major League Baseball is considering banning collisions at home plate in an effort to better protect catchers. There have been quite a few incidents that have been the impetus of the call for change, most notably when Buster Posey and Scott Cousins collided on May 25, 2011. Posey was hurt badly, as he suffered a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments. Most recently, Tigers catcher Alex Avila was bowled over at home plate by fellow catcher David Ross in Game 5 of the ALCS. Avila didn’t suffer a concussion, but there was concern since Avila was only a couple months separated from a previous concussion.

Another motivating factor is the mess the NFL finds itself in, with many retired players suffering from CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The NFL has been the target of many lawsuits as a result. Back in August, the NFL settled with about 18,000 retired players for a total of $765 million. Major League Baseball, seeing this, wants no part of that.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is one of a growing number of former Major Leaguers to support a ban on home plate collisions. Matheny caught for the Cardinals, Brewers, Blue Jays, and Giants over his 13-year Major League career and he was forced into retirement after suffering a concussion in 2007. Via Derrick Goold, here’s what Matheny had to say about the situation:

“I do believe that this game will get to the point where there will no longer be a collision at the plate, ” Matheny said during spring training. “And I am 100 percent in support of that. … Can this game survive without that play? I say absolutely.

“Why doesn’t it turn into every other base?” Matheny continued. “It’s a tag play. You get in position to make a tag like a third baseman. No one is going to (level) a third baseman. … I’d love to hear the rebuttal. What I personally witnessed is enough to change my mind. It took me a little longer to get to the realization of risk we’re putting these guys in.”

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.