Mike Matheny will manage Thursday against a pitcher he coached at a St. Louis high school

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Before Mike Matheny was named manager of the Cardinals, he spent a few years as a part-time assistant baseball coach at a high school in St. Louis called Westminster Christian Academy.

In 2009, Matheny offered tips and advice to an 18-year-old right-hander on the Westminster varsity team named Jacob Turner. And now the two will meet again on a Major League Baseball diamond.

Turner — a first-round pick of the Tigers in the ’09 amateur draft and currently 21 years of age — will be on the mound in Thursday’s series-finale against the Cardinals, a team he grew up rooting for now being managed by one of his mentors.

“He’s a special person,” Turner told John Lowe of the Detroit Press when asked Wednesday about the role Matheny played in his young-adult life, “Obviously, I feel like he helped me a lot.”

Matheny has often featured multiple bench guys in day games, but he has the big guns out for Turner. Rafael Furcal bats leadoff, followed by Skip Schumaker, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, David Freese, Matt Adams and Daniel Descalso. It’s MLB.TV’s Free Game of the Day.

Turner will be making his 2012 debut. He was promoted Thursday morning after posting a 3.43 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 27/19 K/BB ratio in 42 innings for the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, Ohio.

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.