Now a knuckleballer, Tomo Ohka reportedly has a minor league deal with the Blue Jays

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The Blue Jays already have one knuckleballer with 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey and it sounds like they are about to add another one to the mix.

Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Blue Jays have reached a verbal agreement on a minor league contract with Tomo Ohka, who has reinvented himself as a knuckleballer since he last appeared in the majors in 2009. The expectation is that he’ll begin the year with Double-A New Hampshire.

Ohka, now 37, had a 4.26 ERA over 10 seasons in the majors from 1999-2009 while making stops with the Red Sox, Expos, Nationals, Brewers, Blue Jays and Indians. He returned to Japan to pitch for the Yokohama Bay Stars from 2010-2011 before requiring shoulder surgery. MLB Trade Rumors relayed a story from NikkanSports.com last month that Ohka has been developing his knuckler ever since and came to the United States in October to begin training.

If Ohka is going to make a comeback as a knuckleballer, he might as well be as close to Dickey as possible. It should be a fun story to monitor in 2014.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Tony La Russa part ways

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The Arizona Diamondbacks just announced that they are parting ways with Tony La Russa at the end of the month.

La Russa served as the club’s “Chief Baseball Officer” from 2015-16. For the last year he was styled “Chief Baseball Analyst.” That’s a nice way to saying that he was pushed aside when the club fired his hand-picked general manager Dave Stewart and brought in Mike Hazen to run the club a year ago. La Russa was stripped of his powers, but was told he could hang around as an advisor. Most didn’t think he’d actually take the club up on that offer, but he did. By all accounts he was a pretty unobtrusive presence around the team this year, offering counsel and insight when asked but not making things awkward the way having the old boss around might do.

I suppose that can only last so long, however. The Dbacks had considerably more success without La Russa in charge in 2017 than they had with him in charge the previous couple of years. At some point you just part ways. That point is now.