Like most pitchers, Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez has been throwing regular offseason bullpen sessions to stay sharp. Unlike most pitchers, Gonzalez has enlisted one of the best catchers in baseball history, Jorge Posada, to be behind the plate for those sessions.
Gonzalez and Posada meet up at the University of Miami baseball field on Tuesdays and Gonzalez described throwing to Posada as “a childhood dream.”
Here’s more from Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com:
Gonzalez and Posada are represented by the same agency, but they met for the first time by chance earlier this winter when working out at the gym. The two made some small-talk and got to know each other a little bit, and then Posada inquired about Gonzalez’s throwing program as he gears up for spring training.
“I remember he asked me, ‘When are you throwing a bullpen?'” Gonzalez said. “And I said, ‘Well, I don’t have a guy to catch me, but I’ll find one.’ And he goes, ‘Well, I’d be more than happy to catch you.'”
“I thought he was going to say, ‘Oh, I’d love to go see (you throw).’ And he said, ‘No, I’d be happy to catch you.’ I stepped back and I was like, ‘No. Are you serious right now? You messing with me? Because this is for real, I would love for this to happen.’ So he shows up one day with no mask or anything. Just a glove.”
Pretty cool, although the 42-year-old Posada’s knees may feel differently.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.