Orioles, Padres, Mariners likely to bid on Tsuyoshi Nishioka

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SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported earlier this week that the Red Sox and Twins have serious interest in 26-year-old Japanese infielder and MLB free agent Tsuyoshi Nishioka. And now other teams are looking to join the fray.

From Patrick Newman’s NPB Tracker comes a couple of updates on the highly coveted Nishioka:

The Orioles fully intend to at least make a bid.  The Mariners and Padres are also strongly considering making offers.

The Diamondbacks are out, worried that the price will be too high.  The Giants aren’t going to send in a proposal either.

Nishioka won the batting title in Nippon Professional Baseball this past year and is hoping to cash in with a move state-side.  Most MLB clubs view him as a second baseman rather than a shortstop, but that’s all case-by-case depending on individual needs.

Nishioka has expressed a desire to play on the West Coast, but he’ll probably chase the largest and most lucrative contract in the end.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.