Carlos Beltran hopes to begin running next week

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Reports last week had Carlos Beltran “not close to returning” from knee surgery, but yesterday the All-Star center fielder told the New York Daily News that he at least plans to begin running by early next week.

Physically, I’m in good shape. I feel strong. When I’m hitting, I feel like I’m hitting good, with power. I’m using my legs, driving the ball. I’m working with a purpose. That’s not the problem. The problem is I couldn’t tolerate some exercises. I’m looking forward to running outside and doing things related to baseball, like in a game. Running is the thing that will dictate everything.

Beltran talking about his hitting sounds encouraging, as does the Daily News‘ description of him “hitting from both sides of the plate and spraying balls all over the outfield” yesterday. Unfortunately the newspaper notes later that the guy he faced “was only pitching underhanded.” So, you know, if the NL ever decides to adopt slow-pitch softball rules, he’ll probably be an MVP candidate.
Within the Daily News article is a picture of the huge knee brace he’s been wearing and Beltran said, “I probably will need to play with it until my knee recuperates from everything.” Brace or not, he’s unlikely to return before June and will need to avoid further setbacks for that to happen.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.