Jordan Walden takes Mariano Rivera’s All-Star spot

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It’s a veritable passing of the torch.

The game’s all-time closer, Mariano Rivera, makes way for new blood, rookie Jordan Walden, as the AL named the Angels reliever to the All-Star Game on Thursday.

Walden was the choice even though he’s tied with Matt Capps for the major league lead in blown saves by a closer with six.

The league was set on replacing Rivera with a reliever, but there were plenty of better choices based on 2011 performance.  Rivera’s Yankee teammate David Robertson was one of them.  Walden’s own teammate, Scott Downs, has been much more effective as a setup man than Walden has as a closer.  Boston’s Daniel Bard, Balitmore’s Koji Uehara and Seattle’s David Pauley also would have been valid choices.

But none of them have 19 saves.  So, Walden it is.

Kyle Seager is in The Best Shape of His Life

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Kyle Seager had the worst year of his big league career in 2018. He hit .221/.273/.400 (86 OPS+) and saw his home run total decline for the second straight year. In response, Seager has reported back to camp in Peoria . . . in the best shape of his life.

This story about it in the Seattle Times has it all: the poor production and nagging injuries that led to a change of habits in the offseason. A new diet, new exercise routines, a focus on flexibility, the epiphany that an injury was the result of conditioning and, as the payoff, the scene on the first day of workouts when his uniform was too baggy and he had to get a new one.

The proof, of course, will not come from the eating, but in the production.