Brandon Beachy AP

Brandon Beachy expects to have no restrictions in spring training

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Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy has been limited to just five starts in the majors since Tommy John surgery in June of 2012, but he’s hoping for better luck on the health front this year.

Elbow inflammation pushed Beachy’s season debut back to July 29 last year and he eventually underwent surgery in September to remove a bone spur and loose fragments. However, he was among the pitchers present for day one of the Braves’ voluntary throwing program at Turner Field today and told Mark Bowman of that he’ll have no restrictions going into spring training:

“I’m going to be a little smarter than I have been in the past, with not worrying about velocity the first couple of outings and things like that,” Beachy said. “But I’m going to be on the same schedule as everybody else.”

Beachy is still just 27 years old and owns a 3.23 ERA and 275/86 K/BB ratio over 267 2/3 innings in the majors, so there’s some serious upside if he’s finally back to full health. Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia was brought back last week as insurance for the rotation while Gavin Floyd could be an option at some point during the first half assuming all goes well in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.