Hunter Pence slowed by Achilles’ tendon injury early in Giants camp


Giants outfielder Hunter Pence underwent a precautionary MRI exam on his injured Achilles’ tendon today and is expected to be held out of games for at least a week, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Pence downplayed the severity of the injury, saying “it feels great today” and “we’re being extremely conservative” by taking some early time off.

Missing a week of action now would basically have zero effect on Pence’s ability to be ready for Opening Day and in fact some teams limit their star players’ action in early games every spring. Still, it’s something for Giants fans to keep an eye on.

Blue Jays sign ex-Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown

Domonic Brown

Domonic Brown, the one-time Phillies top prospect and starting outfielder who was dropped by the team in October, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Blue Jays.

Brown briefly lived up to the considerable hype in Philadelphia, smacking 27 homers and making the All-Star team as a 25-year-old in 2013, but in two years since then he hit just .233 with a .634 OPS while missing time with injuries.

Despite seemingly being around forever Brown is still only 28 years old and he has a .740 career OPS versus right-handed pitching, potentially making him a solid fit as a platoon player. His defense is pretty rough, though.

Toronto signing Brown comes on the heels of their reported deal with Cincinnati for outfielder Jay Bruce falling through, but Brown and current projected starting left fielder Michael Saunders are both left-handed hitters and thus don’t really fit in a platoon. They could also shift Edwin Encarnacion to first base and find Brown some time at designated hitter.

Whatever the case, Brown is a low-cost, no-risk pickup with some upside if the Blue Jays can tap into his power potential.

On-base machine and super-utility man Tony Phillips dies at age 56


Sad news via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, who reports that longtime major leaguer Tony Phillips has died at age 56 due to an apparent heart attack.

Phillips played 18 seasons in the majors for six different teams, including nine years with the Oakland A’s. He was often categorized at a “utility man” because of his ability to play basically anywhere on the diamond, but he was absolutely a starting-caliber player and in many seasons an underrated star.

Phillips was a diminutive switch-hitter with modest power and incredible plate discipline, leading the league in walks twice and drawing 100 or more walks six times. He got on base more times (3,384) than 75 different Hall of Fame hitters, including big names like Joe DiMaggio, Willie Stargell, Duke Snider, Jim Rice, Orlando Cepeda, and Johnny Bench. He began his career in 1982 as a 23-year-old shortstop and ended up logging 500 or more innings at shortstop, second base, third base, left field, right, and center field.

Phillips never made an All-Star team, which is a shame because he was clearly worthy of that honor in multiple seasons and, had he played now instead of in the 1980s and 1990s, his outstanding on-base skills and defensive versatility would have been more properly appreciated. As recently as last year he was playing independent league ball.

Helluva player gone way too soon.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels


Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Brandon Phillips vetoed two trades, so the Reds stopped shopping him

Brandon Phillips

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips used his veto rights to turn down a pair of trades this offseason, balking at deals that would have sent him to the Nationals and the Diamondbacks.

All of which means, despite the presence of second baseman of the future Jose Peraza, the Reds will continue to start Phillips at second base this season. Or as manager Bryan Price told C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

It looks like Brandon is with us. Brandon, for me, is a second baseman of tremendous value and talent, it’s hard to just assign someone else that job. If Brandon’s with us, I expect him to be playing second base.

Phillips is under control for 2016 and 2017, so something has to give at some point before then if the Reds truly believe Peraza is their long-term answer at second base.

Rosencrans notes that Phillips was actually willing to accept both trades proposed to him, but wanted more money to agree to join the Nationals or the Diamondbacks. And general manager Walt Jocketty says the chances of another Phillips trade happening are “remote” at this point.