Aaron Gleeman

Joe Beimel

Rangers add bullpen help, sign Joe Beimel

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Veteran left-hander Joe Beimel has signed with the Rangers, getting a major-league contract and a spot on the 40-man roster.

Beimel pitched well for the Mariners last season, throwing 45 innings with a 2.20 ERA, but he’s pretty much a left-handed specialist and is unlikely to be trusted to face right-handed hitters in the late innings.

Still, to get a big-league deal at age 38 and on March 6 after an offseason in which tons of veteran starters and relievers had to settle for minor-league contracts is a nice score for Beimel and his agent.

Jonathan Lucroy is ahead of schedule in recovery from hamstring injury

Jonathan Lucroy Getty
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Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Brewers catcher is “progressing so well from hamstring injury” that he “might start playing games sooner than expected.”

Lucroy was initially given a 4-6 week recovery timetable on February 11, so he’s three-plus weeks in.

Barring a setback being ready for Opening Day certainly seems doable. Milwaukee has backup Martin Maldonado ready to step in for a bit if needed, but there’s no replacing Lucroy’s elite combination of hitting and pitch-framing.

Hunter Pence and the pitcher who broke his arm chat on Twitter

Hunter Pence
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Most of the time when we have a post about something said on Twitter it’s because it was bad, but here’s some actual good stuff from the 140-character universe.

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence suffered a broken left forearm Thursday when he was hit by a pitch from Cubs minor leaguer Corey Black.

Black, who spent last season at Double-A, tweeted an apology to Pence. And then Pence replied with something equally nice:

See, now that’s good sportsmanship in 2015!

And hopefully Pence makes a speedy recovery, potentially missing only a couple weeks of the regular season.

Barry Zito’s first start in 19 months “was pretty impressive”

Barry Zito Getty
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Barry Zito took the mound Thursday for his first game action since 2013 and as far as starts after 19-month layoffs go it was an encouraging one.

Zito, who signed a minor-league deal with the A’s after sitting out last season, struck out two batters in two innings against the Cubs and served up a two-run homer to third baseman Mike Olt.

More importantly, Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com reports that Zito was clocked at 86-89 miles per hour, which doesn’t sound impressive until you consider he averaged 83 miles per hour during his final three seasons with the Giants and the former Cy Young winner always topped out in the 80s.

A’s manager Bob Melvin seemed fairly pleased, telling Stiglich:

His velocity was pretty good. He was consistent at 86. I thought he located his changeup. He threw a couple balls up, but all in all, for a guy who hasn’t pitched in a year, I thought he was pretty impressive. … He throws a changeup down in the zone, and it ends up being a homer. He’s one pitch away from everybody saying how well he pitched.

Melvin stopped well short of suggesting Zito had an inside track on an Opening Day job, but so far at least the reunion looks like a real opportunity to make the team and not just a nostalgia trip. And based on Zito’s candid quotes last week, he’s certainly heavily invested in successfully coming back at age 36.

White Sox release Tony Campana after torn ACL

Tony Campana
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Tony Campana, who suffered a torn ACL while working out on his own in early February, has been released by the White Sox.

Campana signed a minor-league deal with the White Sox in November and was set to compete for a bench spot as a speedy, defense-first outfielder, but the 29-year-old journeyman is expected to miss the entire season.

This could be the end of the line for Campana, or at least the end of his legitimate chances to stick in the majors, because so much of his value came from speed and defense given his lowly .583 career OPS.