Neat story in the New York Times yesterday about former Braves farmhand and minor league manager Buddy Bailey who has managed the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan league since 2002. Is it weird to be an American manager in a country whose government is so hostile to Americans? Nah, he just channels Norman Dale:
“At first it was like, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ ” said Mr.
Bailey, referring to the reaction of family and friends when he moved
to Venezuela in 2002. “But baseball is baseball,” he explained.
“Everywhere I go, the pitcher’s mound is at 60 feet 6 inches, and the
bases are 90 feet, so it’s the same everywhere.”
If you’re looking for a nice companion piece to this one on this cold, slow morning, check out this one from the other day about baseball (or softball) as tool-of-diplomacy in Nicaragua.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change. And I just want to say one thing to my kid, who should be home sleeping: Merry Christmas, kid, I love you.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.