Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas reports that the Rangers have hired Shayne Kelley as a major league staff assistant and that one of his duties will be to serve as Josh Hamilton’s new accountability partner.
Kelley has a pretty diverse background, serving as the Royals’ minor league strength and conditioning coach for two seasons and the team chaplain at Alabama from 1996-1999. As such, part of his duties will also include helping out the Rangers’ coaching staff and hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
Kelley will take over the role vacated by Jerry Narron, who took the hitting coach job with the Brewers this offseason. Hamilton’s father-in-law, Michael Dean Chadwick, originally volunteered to replace Narron, but had a change of heart last month after discussing the matter further with his family. Chadwick said at the time that he didn’t think an accountability partner was even necessary, but the matter is obviously of increased importance following Hamilton’s relapse with alcohol at a Dallas-Fort Worth area bar last Monday night.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said that Kelley has already begun his duties, as he traveled with Hamilton during his visit with MLB and MLBPA doctors yesterday in New York.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.