Derek Jeter doubles again, just two hits away from 3,000

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The Yankees lost for a second straight day, falling 5-1 to the Rays, but shortstop and team captain Derek Jeter moved one step closer to history.

Jeter entered the game sitting on 2,997 career hits after a 1-for-3 performance Wednesday in Cleveland. He got to work right away Thursday, rapping a double into the left-center field gap to open the bottom of the first inning. It was his third extra-base hit since returning from the disabled list Monday.

Jeter grounded out to third base in his second at-bat and was retired on a gorgeous play by Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez his third time up. He grounded out again in his fourth plate appearance then ended the contest with another groundout to the hot corner in his fifth and final time at the dish. The 37-year-old future Hall of Famer finished 1-for-5 on the night.

Jeter will enter Friday’s game against Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson with 2,998 career hits. He’s 1-for-2 lifetime against Hellickson, 6-for-25 (.240) against Saturday’s starter David Price and 17-for-54 (.315) against Sunday’s starter James Shields. The milestone should easily be met before the All-Star break.

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.