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Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Video: Adam Jones robs Manny Machado of a stunning home run attempt

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Team USA pulled ahead 6-3 over the Dominican Republic on Saturday night to clinch their spot in next week’s World Baseball Classic semifinals. Amid the glitz of a game-winning Giancarlo Stanton moonshot and the glam of Andrew McCutchen’s two-run double in the eighth inning was a spectacular defensive play by the Orioles’ Adam Jones.

In the seventh inning, with Team USA leading 4-2, fellow Oriole and Dominican Republic third baseman Manny Machado worked a 2-1 count and sent a Tyler Clippard fastball hurtling toward the perimeter of right field. Jones engineered a perfect leap to net the ball, robbing Machado of a badly-needed home run and preserving a two-run lead for the U.S. Machado took the moment in stride, tipping his cap to his teammate as he jogged back to the dugout.

Jones was among those surprised by the play. Via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

I’m still kind of in shock that I even got to that ball,” he said. “I mean, off the bat I’m just like, ‘This ball’s hit really far, so just keep going, keep going.’

The Dominican Republic didn’t have to wait long for their next opportunity. In the next at-bat, Robinson Cano lifted a change-up from Clippard over the left field fence, nearly getting robbed on another ambitious leap from left fielder Christian Yelich before it landed safely in the stands. Still, it wasn’t quite enough to close the gap between the teams, and a two-run rally in the ninth clinched the victory — and a place in the semifinals — for Team USA.

Josh Thole could miss entire 2017 season

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Diamondbacks’ catcher Josh Thole is likely lost for the season, according to comments made by manager Torey Lovullo on Saturday. Per Nick Piecoro of AZ Central Sports, Thole suffered a significant hamstring tear and could undergo surgery, though he’s said to be seeking a second opinion soon.

Thole sustained the injury while running the bases during a game against the Cubs last Wednesday. He felt his hamstring pop as he dodged a line drive and had to be helped off the field when he came out of the game.

The veteran backstop signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks in January and was expected to serve as catching depth behind Jeff Mathis, Chris Iannetta and Chris Herrmann. He batted .169/.254/.220 with one home run and a .474 OPS for the Blue Jays during the 2016 season.