Mariano Rivera spotless in first game action since knee surgery

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After announcing his intention to retire following the 2013 season earlier this morning, Rivera made his Grapefruit League debut this afternoon against the Braves. And it didn’t take him long to shake the rust following knee surgery.

In his first game action since last May, Rivera notched two strikeouts over a perfect inning of work. Topping out at 92 mph, the 43-year-old induced a pop-up from Dan Uggla and struck out Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson looking before he left the field to a standing ovation. Are we sure that he can’t pitch forever? Just saying.

Between the Alex Rodriguez drama and the injuries to Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, there hasn’t been much good news for the Yankees this spring, but the successful debuts of Derek Jeter and Rivera should temper the panic talk. At least for a couple of days, anyway.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.