Jim Leyland tells Brad Penny to pick up the pace

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Well, it was more a suggestion than an order, but Tigers manager Jim Leyland thinks Brad Penny should start working more quickly on the mound, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports.

“I talked to him in Cleveland about maybe picking up the pace a little bit to see if it helps,” Leyland said. “If it doesn’t work, it’ll be my fault. I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not, because I don’t know once a guy gets out there if he can do it. But I think sometimes the longer you take before you throw it again, sometimes you outthink yourself. Get it back, look in for the sign and throw it.”

Penny has always been methodical on the mound, if not quite Trachselian, and he’s also really struggling at the moment, having given up 15 runs — 11 earned — in 10 innings over his last two starts.  He’s battling Rick Porcello for the fourth spot in Detroit’s postseason rotation, and he’s the definite underdog at the moment with his 9-10 record and 5.13 ERA.  Porcello is 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA in his last three starts, making him 13-8 with a 4.87 ERA for the season.

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.