Wilson Ramos to resume playing in Venezuelan winter league tonight

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Wilson Ramos is scheduled to be back in the lineup for Tigres de Aragua of the Venezuelan winter league tonight, less than a week after being rescued following a kidnapping at gunpoint.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo signed off on Ramos remaining in Venezuela and returning to game action, but told ESPN-980 in Washington that the team plans to give Ramos a physical exam following the winter meetings next month and will have him speak to a specialist “equipped to talk to people in these types of situations.”

Ramos finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .267 with 15 homers and a .779 OPS in 113 games, which is one of the most productive seasons by a 23-year-old catcher during the past 25 years.

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.