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Report: Rays are “seriously interested” in Steve Pearce

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Not four months after the Rays traded utility player Steve Pearce to the Orioles for minor league catcher Jonah Heim, they want him back. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays have “serious interest” in bringing Pearce onboard for the 2017 season, though that interest hinges on his ability to make a full recovery after undergoing forearm surgery in September.

When healthy, Pearce slashed a .288/.374/492 line with the Rays and Orioles, racking up 13 home runs and an .867 OPS in 302 PA. His power at the plate pairs nicely with his defensive flexibility, as he logged time at first base, second base, right field, left field, and DH in 2016. After parting ways with infielder Richie Shaffer last week, Topkin speculates that the Rays could utilize Pearce in a first base/DH role behind starting first baseman Brad Miller.

The Blue Jays and Mets are among those who have also expressed interest in the 33-year-old so far this offseason.

Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt on plate after home run

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Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.

“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”

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