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Rays, pitching coach Jim Hickey part ways


Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that pitching coach Jim Hickey and the Rays have mutually agreed to part ways. Hickey had been the Rays’ pitching coach since 2007. Topkin adds that Hickey was under contract for 2018, but both sides felt it was time for a change.

The Rays weren’t particularly disappointing in the pitching department this year. The club allowed 4.35 runs per game in aggregate, the fifth-best mark in the American League and about a third of a run better than the league average.

Given Hickey’s reputation, he should latch on with another team quickly. The Cardinals and Mets are two teams with current openings for a pitching coach.

The Rays are expected to name Kyle Snyder as the new pitching coach and move Charlie Montoyo to bench coach, per Topkin.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.