Clayton Kershaw wins Roberto Clemente Award

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Clayton Kershaw was chosen as the Roberto Clemente Award recipient on Sunday, making him the youngest winner in the award’s 42-year history.

The Roberto Clemente Award goes to the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship and community involvement. There are also bonus points for being really, really good at baseball. The only non-superstars to win it in the last decade were Jamie Moyer in 2003 and Tim Wakefield in 2010. David Ortiz won it last year.

With less than five years of service time, Kershaw is the least experienced player ever to win the award. The Indians’ Andre Thornton won it in 1979, six years after his debut. Barry Larkin was chosen in 1993, seven years after his debut with the Reds.

Kershaw and his wife run the charity organization “Kershaw’s Challenge,” which has worked to build an orphanage in Zambia. Kershaw travels to Africa each winter, and he and his wife wrote a book about their experiences there.

“I am happy to congratulate Clayton Kershaw on being named the recipient of this year’s Roberto Clemente Award,” said Vera Clemente, Roberto’s widow. “The work that this young man has accomplished to help youth around the world is wonderful, and we are proud to welcome him among the many players who have carried on Roberto’s legacy.”

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.