Bill Baer

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Joaquin Benoit dethrones Jeanmar Gomez as Phillies’ closer

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Jeanmar Gomez‘s struggles continued on Sunday against the Nationals, serving up a game-tying three-run home run to Ryan Zimmerman. After the game, which the Phillies won, manager Pete Mackanin said he was considering taking Gomez out of the closer’s role, but would have a conversation with him on Monday.

After that conversation, Gomez is officially out and Joaquin Benoit is in, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports.

Benoit, 39, has pitched three scoreless innings on a hit and a walk with four strikeouts to open the season. He has closing experience, racking up 51 career saves including 24 in 2013 with the Tigers and 11 in 2014 with the Padres.

The Phillies were also considering 27-year-old Hector Neris along with Benoit, but he will be eligible for arbitration between 2019-21. Since save totals are taken into consideration by arbitrators, the team was likely trying to depress his future earnings by keeping him out of the closer’s role.

UPDATE: Otis Nixon found safe

Jamie Squire, Allsport
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UPDATE: Woodstock, Georgia police say that Otis Nixon “has been located and is safe.” They have yet to provide any details about his apparent disappearance, but it’s good to hear that the former big leaguer is OK.

11:05 AM: Police say they do not suspect foul play in the disappearance of former big league outfielder Otis Nixon. Woodstock, Georgia police said this morning that they received leads with respect to Nixon’s disappearance overnight and that detectives are following up on them.

While it is unwise to speculate, it is worth noting that Nixon has an extensive history of substance abuse, both during and after his playing career.

April 9: Former major league outfielder Otis Nixon is missing, WSB-TV is reporting. He was last seen leaving his home in a gray 2011 Range Rover on Saturday morning. He was supposed to be at a local golf course, but never arrived.

The Woodstock Police Department tweeted about Nixon. If you have Twitter, you can retweet it to raise awareness.

Nixon, 58, spent parts of 17 seasons in the majors with the Yankees, Indians, Expos, Braves, Red Sox, Rangers, Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Twins. He stole 620 bases in his career, good for 16th on baseball’s all-time leaderboard. His arrival to the Braves in 1991 coincided with the team ending its eight-year playoff drought, losing the World Series in seven games to the Twins.

Braves sign Jason Motte to a minor league deal

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The Braves announced on Sunday night that the club signed veteran reliever Jason Motte to a minor league deal. He will report to Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday and provide bullpen depth for the Braves organization. The Rockies designated him for assignment at the end of March and released him last Wednesday.

Motte, 34, posted a 4.94 ERA with a 24/8 K/BB ratio in 23 2/3 innings for the Rockies last season. He missed a month and a half between late July and mid-September with a rotator cuff injury.

Motte was a reliable reliever for the Cardinals between 2010-12, but injuries and age have hampered his effectiveness. The Braves won’t be relying on him in many high-leverage situations if he does get called up.