Aaron Gleeman

Jarrod Parker AP

Jarrod Parker headed for MRI exam after leaving game in pain

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Potentially sad news for oft-injured A’s right-hander Jarrod Parker, who left the mound screaming in pain today after throwing just one pitch.

According to what the A’s medical staff told reporters Parker has been diagnosed with a lateral elbow impingement and there’s optimism it won’t prove to be a serious injury. However, he’s going for an MRI exam and … well, given Parker’s lengthy injury history it’s hard not to be pessimistic.

Parker has already come back from two Tommy John surgeries and is currently rehabbing from a broken elbow where the newest ligament had been re-attached. All despite only being 27 years old.

Once considered among the top pitching prospects in baseball while coming up through the Diamondbacks farm system, Parker was traded to the A’s in the late-2011 deal for Trevor Cahill. He was healthy and effective in 2013 and 2014, combining to throw 378 innings with a 3.73 ERA, but then blew out his elbow for a second time.

Cubs release Rex Brothers before $1.4 million deal becomes guaranteed

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Rex Brothers was released today by the Cubs, who signed the left-hander to a $1.42 million contract in December after acquiring him from the Rockies.

However, because the contract was an agreement to avoid arbitration it’s only partially guaranteed. By releasing Brothers now the Cubs owe him only 30 days of termination pay, which is around $300,000. In other words, they made the decision so early in spring training precisely because it saved them the most money in a situation unique to this specific type of contract.

Not so long ago Brothers looked like one of the best young relievers in the league, saving 19 games with  1.74 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 67 innings for the Rockies in 2013 as a 25-year-old. However, the former first-round draft pick struggled in 2014 and then spent most of last season in the minors before failing to impress the Cubs this spring.

At age 28 he should have plenty of interested suitors on a minor-league contract, but will have to get his career back on track before returning to the majors.

Angels send Jered Weaver for MRI exam on neck

Jered Weaver AP
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Angels right-hander Jered Weaver, who had trouble reaching 80 miles per hour with his fastball Wednesday, reported having neck soreness today and has been sent for what the team is calling a “precautionary” MRI exam.

Weaver throwing in the high-70s and low-80s isn’t as worrisome as it would be with nearly any other pitcher because his velocity has been in decline for years now and he worked in the mid-80s for much of last season. However, it’s also easy to see why the Angels are cautious with his health in general.

Along with the low velocity reading Weaver served up three homers to the Dodgers on Wednesday and is coming off a career-worst 4.64 ERA and career-low 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings last year. He’s only 33 years old, but Weaver’s career may be at a crossroads.

Pedro Alvarez’s deal with Orioles worth up to $7 million

Pedro Alvarez
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Pedro Alvarez and the Orioles made their one-year deal official today in a press conference. Alvarez will get $5.75 million in guaranteed money, plus another $1.25 million in potential incentives based on playing time that start accumulating once he surpasses 350 plate appearances.

Given that Alvarez figures to be platooned at least somewhat and may not start interleague games in NL ballparks a reasonable projection of 500 plate appearances would earn him $6.55 million in total. Not a bad payday considering Alvarez made $5.75 million with the Pirates last season and was non-tendered because Pittsburgh didn’t want to pay him an estimated $8 million via the arbitration process.

Alvarez is expected to serve as Baltimore’s starting designated hitter, bringing his 30-homer power to a lineup that projects as perhaps the most powerful in all of baseball this season. In fact, if Alvarez, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, and company simply produce like they have in past seasons the Orioles might be the first MLB team since 2010 to hit 250 homers.

Bryce Harper: “Baseball is a tired sport because you can’t express yourself”

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ESPN The Magazine has a lengthy feature story about Bryce Harper and there’s plenty of interesting stuff for people who love or hate the reigning National League MVP, but one particular excerpt figures to draw the most attention.

From a section in which Tim Keown writes about how Harper wants to change the perception of baseball players, the Nationals outfielder says “baseball is tired … it’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself.”

Here’s more:

You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig — there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.

Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling — hoorah … if you pimp a homer, I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot … I mean — sorry.

You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players — Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton — I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.

There’s a large and very vocal segment of baseball fans and media members who simply hate Harper and the above quotes will surely add fuel to that fire, but in general I agree with him.

Sports are about entertainment and fun. Athletes doing great things are exciting and impressive. And yet baseball, far more than other sports, seems obsessed with the way things used to be and maintaining some standard of buttoned-up decorum that, frankly, has never been consistent and never will be consistent.

Harper celebrating a home run is treated far differently than a similar celebration from a 15-year veteran deemed a “good guy” by reporters covering his team. Young players don’t need to be demonized for not behaving like old players any more than the average kid needs to hear another story about how his grandfather walked to school up a hill in the snow.

Young players should be celebrated for being great and exciting and vital to the sport’s growth. Harper represents much of what old fans dislike about sports, but he also represents much of what new fans enjoy about sports and his presence as a young, exceptionally talented superstar behaving how a young, exceptionally talented superstar chooses to behave will lead to more sports fans falling in love with baseball.