Marlon Byrd on the Phillies: “we’re not an old team”

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With the signing of Marlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu — and because they’re counting on Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to be the motors of the offense once again — the “Phillies are old” jokes have been all over the place this winter.  My favorite two so far are (1) the one about how they’re going to rename the stadium to Senior Citizens Bank Park; and (2) the one in which the announcement of Billy Joel playing a concert there this summer actually lowers the team’s average age.

Yuks are yuks, of course, but it’s not like an old team can’t win. The 1983 Phillies — nicknamed the “Wheeze Kids” — won the pennant. The 1993 pennant-winning Phillies were no spring chickens either. And like the man said, age is just a state of mind. Just ask new Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who tells CSNPhilly.com that he uses a different measure of age than the year on someone’s birth certificate:

“All of us do. You keep hearing old, old, old … we’re not an old team,” Byrd said. “We can still play. Once you can’t play, then you’re old. We still have a lot in the tank, we just to have to show that and stay healthy.”

It’s all the stuff of offseason optimism. History shows that, occasionally, an old team can stay healthy and produce. If the Phillies do that then, sure, they could be an interesting team. It’s just not the most likely outcome.

Watch: Ryan Goins tags Todd Frazier with the hidden ball trick

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The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.

Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.

Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.

Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.