Report: Padres general manager Josh Byrnes is on the hot seat

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We heard some speculation last month that Padres manager Bud Black could be fired after their disappointing start to the season, but it turns out that general manager Josh Byrnes could be the first one to go.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears from major league sources that Byrnes’ relationship with ownership has “deteriorated” and that he is under the “most scrutiny” for the team’s current state. If the team does fire him, assistant general manager A.J. Hinch is considered the likely interim replacement. Of course, Hinch has close ties with Byrnes going back to their time together with the Diamondbacks.

The timing on this situation is delicate for multiple reasons. First, the Padres don’t want to appear insensitive following the death of Hall of Famer and franchise icon Tony Gwynn. His memorial service isn’t until next Thursday. Also, the Padres are one of just a handful of obvious sellers in the trade market. Whether it’s Byrnes, Hinch, or someone else making the decisions, names like Huston Street, Carlos Quentin, Chase Headley, and Ian Kennedy all figure to be in play before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Interestingly, Rosenthal makes the case that the Padres could do well to deal staff ace Andrew Cashner, who has rejected overtures about a contract extension and is under team through 2016.

Byrnes, who is signed through 2017, was promoted to GM under the previous ownership group in October of 2011. The Padres had back-to-back 76-wins seasons in 2012 and 2013 and sit at just 32-42 this season behind the league’s worst offense.

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.