Former NBA star Tracy McGrady confirmed Tuesday that he will pursue a pitching career with the Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters this season.
McGrady, who turns 35 in May, played 16 seasons in the NBA and made seven All-Star teams. He wrapped up his career last summer by playing in six postseason games with the Spurs after sitting out the regular season. He led the league in points per game in 2002-03 (32.1) and 2003-04 (28.0).
The Skeeters, who play their games just outside Houston, are managed by former major league All-Star Gary Gaetti and had ex-major leaguers such as Scott Elarton, Jason Lane and Fernando Perez on the team last season. Roger Clemens briefly pitched for the club in 2012.
Clemens recently watched McGrady throw, according to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, and said McGrady wasn’t quite ready for game action as is.
“He’s not there yet,” Clemens said. “[He] needs more time to react to live hitters and calls coming back [toward] him.”
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.