Longtime Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren passes away after battle with cancer

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Sad news to pass along this morning, as the Braves have announced that longtime broadcaster Pete Van Wieren has passed away following a long battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

Nicknamed “The Professor,” Van Wieren called Braves games on television and radio for 33 seasons from 1976-2008. He became well-known nationally as a part of the TBS booth alongside the likes of Skip Caray, Ernie Johnson Sr., Don Sutton, and Joe Simpson. During his time with Turner Sports, he also broadcasted NBA, NHL, and Big Ten Conference football games.

Van Wieren was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2004 along with Caray. After his retirement in 2008, he released a book entitled “Of Mikes and Men: A Lifetime of Braves Baseball,” which was co-written with Jack Wilkinson. The picture to the right is from a pre-game ceremony for Hank Aaron at the Braves home opener this past April.

Our thoughts are with Van Wieren’s family, friends, and colleagues.

Reds ink Oliver Perez to a minor-league deal

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The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.

Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.

While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.