Jarrod Saltalamacchia taps the yips away

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Interesting story by Gordon Edes about Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s struggles to get over the throwing yips that plagued him down in Texas.  The key: working with sports psychologists, including an expert on yips who has developed a unique system:

The system, he said, is modeled after the pressure points found in acupuncture. And athletes with the yips, he said, “are in so much pain.”

“Tapping helps clear out the negative emotion,” he said. “Say you struck out to end the seventh inning, and you still have to play defense and might come up to bat again. How to clear out that negative emotion?

“You focus on the negative. Start on your eyebrows. Focus on the negative. Each site, your eyes, below your nose, below your lip. The idea is to do a tap lap, go down and around, tap the top of your head, then start again. Tapping helps clear out the negative emotion.”

I tend to be skeptical of this sort of thing, but when it comes to hard-to-diagnose and even harder-to-fix problems like the yips, I’m firmly in the “whatever works” camp.   And as Edes reports, it seems to be working for Saltalamacchia.

I’m just cringing, though, at the thought of what some of the harsher Boston columnists, talk radio guys and fans are going to do with concepts like “energy psychology” and “negative emotion” if Saltalamacchia struggles early this season.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.