Give a warm welcome to new HBT writer Ashley Varela!

Library of Congress

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you Ashley Varela, HardballTalk’s newest writer. Ashley will be providing news, analysis and whatever degree of nonsense she chooses to offer on Friday nights and on Saturday and Sunday during the day.

Ashley is based in Oakland, California. She has written about baseball for several years now, with her work appearing online and in print at SB Nation, USA Today Sports Weekly, Baseball Prospectus and some other places. Which just goes to show you that, unlike when Bill and I were hired, we now care about things like “experience” and “qualifications” and “the ability to put grammatically correct sentences together on a consistent basis” when giving someone a job. Bill and I got in just under the wire, frankly.

Ashley is also unique in that, unlike Bill and I, she actually has played competitive sports, as a member of the Cha Cha Mermaids intramural softball team in Santa Barbara, California. You can still tell Bill and I that we don’t know what we’re talking about since we haven’t played the game, but you can’t do that to Ashley.

In keeping with the tradition of HBT writers being horribly biased, you should know that Ashley is from Seattle and is thus a fan of her hometown Seattle Mariners. In keeping with the tradition of HBT writers liking the things you hate, Ashley voluntarily attends games at the Oakland Coliseum whenever possible. In keeping with the tradition of HBT writers liking really bad players from our favorite teams (see, Francoeur, Jeff; Howard, Ryan; and Francoeur, Jeff), Ashley was heartbroken when Munenori Kawasaki left the Mariners.

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Munenori Kawasaki #61 of the Seattle Mariners practices during a workout session at the Peoria Sports Complex on February 27, 2012 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
“I miss you too, Ashley”

Ashley starts this Friday evening. Give her a follow on Twitter. And give her a warm welcome once she starts posting stuff.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”