Binocular-gate: Managers trade shots as White Sox and Tigers feud

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Nothing like a little late-season drama in the AL Central.

Yesterday afternoon White Sox ace Chris Sale plunked Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez with a pitch, clearing the benches.

Sale indicated that he believed Martinez, who’s hitting .334 this season, had someone in the outfield with binoculars relaying signs to him. He even made a binocular gesture with his hands circling his eyes, which Ian Kinsler of the Tigers later mocked.

(Al Beaton of the Tigers blog Bless You Boys has a good recap, including screen shots.)

Then after the game Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he felt Sale hit Martinez on purpose and called the whole notion “weak.” And so naturally today White Sox manager Robin Ventura fired back at him, saying:

He’s not weak and we don’t do weak things. And Chris doesn’t do weak things. He [Ausmus] should probably worry about his own team and invest a little more in his own team. Don’t worry about my team.

Adding to the drama? Ventura and the White Sox finish the season with a four-game series against the Royals, who’re trying to overtake Ausmus and the Tigers for the AL Central title.

Cubs sign Jeremy Jeffress

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The Chicago Cubs have signed reliever Jeremy Jeffress to a one-year, $850,000 deal.

While Jeffress is coming off a bad year — due mostly to hip and shoulder problems — this is a surprisingly low figure for Jeffress, who was said to have had a “sizable market” last September, with the Mets, Phillies, Reds, and Rays all rumored to be in on him. It’s also worth noting that he is just a year removed from an excellent 1.29 ERA season with the Brewers. He is reported to be eligible for $200,000 in incentives, which could bring this deal closer to what a reliever of his caliber’s going rate might be.

As for the Cubs, they haven’t been particularly active this offseason — indeed, this is their first free agent acquisition — but I suppose we should give them credit for buying low on a guy who should probably be able to help their bullpen.