This is all kinds of fun. The New York Times has a map which breaks down baseball fandom by county. The methodology isn’t exactly science — it finds out the percentage of people who list a given team as their favorite in Facebook profiles by county — but it is kind of fun.
My county is about as perfectly represented as intuition would have it: an even split between Indians and Reds fans, with a healthy dollop of Yankees fans too. That Yankees part is attributale to the longtime affiliation of the Columbus Clippers with the Yankees, the fact that — and I should write about this some other time — there are still a handful of random, clinging-on minority owners from the original Steinbrenner purchase of the Yankees here in Columbus and because, well, frontrunning fans will be frontrunners.
Anyway, have a ball.
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.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”