Pitchers and catchers report today

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Not all of them, of course. Just the Diamondbacks. They report today and hold their first workout tomorrow. The Dodgers report on Saturday.

This is amazingly early, of course, because the Diamondbacks and Dodgers open their regular season in Australia on March 22. That’s more than a week before everyone else, thus necessitating the early report. Everyone else reports between February 11th and 16th. All reporting dates can be seen here.

This is a wonderful harbinger of spring. It’s also one of the more anticlimactic things around. We wait for it all winter, then it happens and … it’s still cold where most of us are. And at best we get some pictures of guys playing long toss and running.

Personally I don’t feel like spring has really started until there are spring training games, but if this sort of thing helps you stay warm, more power to you.

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.