Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that Dexter Fowler has been getting tutelage from former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds. Since back-to-back-to-back two-hit games to start the season, Fowler has slumped, batting just .114 in 47 trips to the plate over 11 games. Only one of his five hits has gone for extra bases.
Drellich writes that Fowler has been receiving instruction from Bonds for roughly a year, including over the off-season, but Bonds and Fowler have been collaborating at the O.co Coliseum while the Astros have battled the Athletics over the weekend.
Fowler says Bonds isn’t only helping with hitting:
“I don’t think it’s just one thing,” Fowler said. “It’s a plethora of things. To point out one thing, it’s mentally, it’s physically, it’s everything.”
Ryan Howard is another notable player to have been coached by Bonds, going all the way back to 2010. It’s tough to deduce if it helped, since Howard was injured for much of 2011 and ’12. The Astros, who have had Fowler lead off for most of the season, hope Bonds can help their center fielder turn his season around.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.