Jeremy Jeffress elects free agency

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Jeremy Jeffress passed through waivers unclaimed after being designated for assignment by the Blue Jays earlier this month, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the right-hander has elected free agency rather than accept an assignment to Triple-A Buffalo.

While it was reported over the winter that the Blue Jays were considering using Jeffress as a starter, he entered spring training as a reliever and won a spot in the team’s bullpen to begin the year. However, he allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings over three appearances before getting the boot.

Selected No. 16 overall by the Brewers in 2006, Jeffress owns a 4.47 ERA and 50/38 K/BB ratio over 52 1/3 innings in the majors. The 26-year-old throws hard, but he has yet to show that he can consistency throw strikes. Still, it probably won’t be long before he finds an opportunity elsewhere.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.