According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Rays reliever Ronald Belisario will miss the start of the season due to a fractured left (non-throwing) shoulder. He suffered the injury about a month ago while getting out of a swimming pool. That’s a new one.
Belisario joined the Rays on a minor league deal over the winter and appeared to have a decent chance to make the Opening Day roster, but he’s now shut down from doing anything on the field for the next two weeks. It’s unclear when he could be ready for game action.
Belisario, 32, posted a 5.56 ERA and 47/18 K/BB ratio over 66 1/3 innings with the White Sox last season.
The Nationals have agreed to terms with left-hander Rich Hill on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Hill, who turns 35 next month, bounced around three different organizations last year and mostly pitched in the minors. The sidearmer had a 3.38 ERA in 16 appearances between the Angels and Yankees and posted a 2.93 ERA in 29 appearances at the Triple-A level with New York and Boston. Hill pitched with the Indians in 2013 and struggled to the tune of a 6.28 ERA and 51/29 K/BB ratio over 38 2/3 innings.
Hill could compete for a job as a left-handed specialist this spring. He has held left-handed batters to a .216 batting average in his career.
In what will be his first game action since last July 31, Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee is set to make his Grapefruit League debut next Thursday against the Astros.
Lee finished last season on the disabled list with a recurrence of a flexor pronator strain in his elbow, but Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he’s healthy and ready to go.
“Cliff is right on. He’s throwing well. He feels good. So he’s right on schedule,” McClure said.
Lee is expected to pitch two innings, which is pretty standard for a spring debut. He’ll get stretched out in subsequent outings in advance of the regular season. A healthy spring might not be enough to convince someone to trade for him, but he’s obviously someone who could get moved at some point this year.
Lee, 36, is owed $25 million this season and $27.5 million or a $12 million buyout for 2016.
While Daniel Murphy would like to discuss a contract extension with the Mets, it looks like a foregone conclusion that he will test free agency after the 2015 season.
Marc Carig of Newsday reports that the Mets have “no intention” of engaging in extension talks with Murphy, which has been their stance dating back to last year. The two sides recently agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract to avoid arbitration, but the Mets are prepared to let him walk next offseason and are even hesitant of making him a qualifying offer.
Murphy turns 30 in April and owns a .290/.333/.419 batting line for his career, but he’s a below-average defender at second base and will only likely get worse as he ages. He’s not the best candidate for a lucrative multi-year deal with New York, especially with prospect Dilson Herrera in the pipeline.
In a recent interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Braves outfielder Nick Markakis expressed frustration about how his contract talks with the Orioles broke down over the winter by saying, “Don’t believe a word they say…It was all because of my neck.” He apologized for those comments today.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, Markakis said he was responding to a specific comment from a reporter, who was told by a member of the Orioles’ front office that the team didn’t want to offer a four-year deal and was only willing to go three years. When Markakis was asked whether this was what caused talks to break down, it set him off:
“What I said wasn’t directed at any way to the Orioles organization or ownership. It’s just one of those things where I kind of said sarcastically, ‘B.S., I wouldn’t believe everything you hear. Don’t believe them.’
“I just want to put it behind me and I apologize for what I did, but there’s a reason why it came out of my mouth. I’m just tired of people thinking they know what happened.”
Clearly the Orioles were also concerned about Markakis’ neck — Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has since acknowledged as much — but that information didn’t come out until he signed with the Braves. Based on what we know now, it sounds like the Orioles didn’t do anything out of line here. By not telling the whole story at the time, they were respecting his privacy. But Markakis had a lot of history with the Orioles and he was obviously interested in staying, so you can’t blame him for being emotional about it. Getting $44 million guaranteed and the chance to play closer to home should make it feel a little better, though.