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Wild rumor time: Robinson Cano might have met with the Tigers yesterday

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The Tigers were able to shed the monster contract of Prince Fielder earlier this week in the deal that netted them Ian Kinsler from the Rangers. Is it possible that the next step will be to pursue free agent second baseman Robinson Cano?

That scenario seems extremely unlikely for a variety of reasons, but there have been some rumblings that Cano was in Detroit yesterday. Tony Paul of the Detroit News did some pretty thorough checking on the matter and found nothing conclusive. But he also couldn’t rule it out.

There was, indeed, a charter plane that took off from Teterboro, N.J., about a half-hour outside New York City, at 6:59 a.m. Friday and landed at Willow Run 90 minutes later. The plane then sat at Willow Run until 2:04 p.m., when it headed back to Teterboro. The plane in question is a Kelso Air-owned business jet, a Bombardier Challenger 600, which seats between 14 and 18 passengers. This plane could cost as much as $4,100 per hour to charter, or more than $32,000 for this particular trip — impressive, to be sure, but not much of a dent for someone who made, say, $15 million in salary in 2013.

This jet also has made no other recent trips to Michigan. Its recent getaways include such locales as Augusta, Ga. (home of swanky Augusta National Golf Club); Bermuda; Sacramento, Calif.; San Diego; and Chicago.

There was no word from either airport on whether Cano had been on board. An employee in the administration office at Teterboro said even if he had that information, he couldn’t disclose it. There was no answer at Willow Run on Friday evening.

Now, how do we know Cano is even in the States right now, and not home in the Dominican Republic? Truth be told, we don’t. However, there’s a good chance he has remained in New York. He is, after all, searching for a new contract. And just the other day, he did attend an A-list party in New York City.

Cano’s hip-hop agent, meanwhile, is Jay Z, who was in Oklahoma City on Thursday night, sitting courtside for an NBA game. (He also represents Thunder star Kevin Durant.) There was no direct flight listed from Oklahoma City to Willow Run. But Jay Z also has his own private plane, and apparently has the ability to file a request with the FAA to be excluded from the publicly accessible flight-tracker websites.

I don’t think we have seen much plane tracking in the baseball world since Cliff Lee three years ago. The Hot Stove will make you do some crazy things sometimes.

As for the Tigers, they are staying pretty quiet on the matter. A team spokesman gave a “no comment” to Paul while Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told Chris Iott of MLive.com via email that “we plan on having Ian Kinsler as our second baseman this year.”

Buddy Carlyle named the Braves new replay assistant

Buddy Carlyle
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The Braves have been terrible with respect to replay challenges this year. Almost improbably terrible. Fredi Gonzalez has challenged calls seven times and he’s been unsuccessful on all seven challenges. Given how these things work, it’s likely because he’s getting bad advice from the Braves employee designated to watch the replays and suggest when challenges should be made.

Now Gonzalez is going to have a new guy in that role. A familiar name too: Buddy Carlyle, who Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports, will join the Braves as a coaching assistant who will handle the replay review decisions.

Carlyle, of course, spent nine seasons as a major league pitcher and nearly 20 as a professional overall. Most recently with the Mets last season before calling it a career. He pitched for the Braves as well, from 2007-09.

Now he’ll provide a new and, hopefully, more discerning set of eyes for the Braves’ replay operation.

Garrett Richards needs Tommy John surgery, Andrew Heaney has UCL damage too

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Bad, bad news for the Los Angeles Angels: their best starter needs Tommy John surgery and their most promising young starter has UCL damage as well.

Jeff Passan reports that Garrett Richards has a torn right ulnar collateral ligament and is expected to need Tommy John surgery. Richards was scratched from today’s start due to fatigue and dehydration, but Passan says they found the UCL tear while examining him yesterday. Richards is the Angels’ ace, having won 13 games in 2014 and 15 games a year ago. So far this year he a 2.34 ERA in six starts.

Heaney, meanwhile, has damage to his left ulnar collateral ligament, Passan reports. He was diagnosed with a flexor muscle strain after he was placed on the disabled list following his first start of the season, but this is obviously more serious. Unlike Richards, the plan at the moment is for Heaney to rehab rather than go under the knife. Sometimes that works. Often it doesn’t and Tommy John happens later. We’ll see.

These twin blows are huge and terrible for the Angels, who already had serious depth issues basically everywhere on the roster. The conventional wisdom before the year started was that, if everything broke right and everyone stayed healthy, they could possibly contend in an often volatile AL West, but that they didn’t have a big margin for error. This is a lot of error. The Angels are 13-15 and four games out in the division as it is. Without two starters on whom they were counting big, it’s hard to see how the rest of the Angels’ season isn’t going to be a total slog.

Willie Mays gets a cable car named after him

Major League Baseball hall of famer  Willie Mays, who spent the majority of his career as a center fielder with the New York and San Francisco Giants, smiles as President Barack Obama honors the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants baseball team, Monday, July 29, 2013, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. The team beat the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, their second championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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This is not exactly stunning news, but it’s Willie Mays’ 85th birthday today and any excuse to talk about Willie Mays is a good one. Happy Birthday, Willie!

The pretext is a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about how The Greatest Baseball Player of All Time (my view anyway) is getting an iconic cable car named after him. An icon named after an icon, I guess. The cable car is, appropriately, number 24.

Next month I’m taking my kids on vacation to California and we’re spending a few days in San Francisco. It’ll be a shame when I tell them we have to cancel half of a day’s plans while I make them wait for one particular cable car to come by so they can take my picture with it, but that’s just what they have to deal with given that I’m their dad.

Carlos Gomez calls out a hit piece-writing columnist

Houston Astros' Carlos Gomez (30) reacts after hitting a double in the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Yesterday I wrote about a column written by Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. It was about Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, who has had a poor start to the year.

The column, as I noted, was a hatchet job, blaming Gomez for the Astros’ problems despite the fact that Gomez is by far from the biggest of the Astros’ problems. It was particularly bad in that it presented an unedited bit of broken English from Gomez which seemed calculated to cast Gomez in a bad light. Many journalists were critical of Smith in this regard, noting that he could’ve used a translator, could have paraphrased or could’ve done some mild correction via brackets, as is often done with quotes from non-native English speakers.

Last night Gomez took to Twitter to call out Smith himself:

It’s possible to write a column about how a player hasn’t lived up to expectations without being an insensitive jackass. It’s possible to do so even in the sharpest of ways. Smith didn’t do that, however, and didn’t make an effort to try, it seems. Gomez is right to take issue with it. And I suspect that Gomez’s teammates and organization take issue with it too. Which likely doesn’t bode well for Smith getting cooperation from others in the Astros family.