Orioles avoid arbitration with Jeremy Guthrie

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Jeremy Guthrie headshot.jpgThe Orioles and right-hander Jeremy Gutrhie avoided arbitration on Friday by agreeing to a one-year, $3 million contract, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. He requested $3.625 million and was offered $2.3 million when arbitration
figures were exchanged last month, so they just about split the difference here.

Guthrie, who turns 31 in April, eclipsed the 200 inning mark for the first time in his career last season, but posted a 5.04 ERA while leading the league with 17 losses. Guthrie has always been very hittable, but he managed to get by as a groundball pitcher in the past. No such luck last season, as he allowed more flyballs than groundballs and even though his HR/FB rate approached league average, he led the league with 35 home runs allowed. Unless he manages to reverse that trend, expect more of the same going forward.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.