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Rays designate Nick Franklin for assignment

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Rays’ utility infielder/outfielder Nick Franklin has been designated for assignment, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The hard-hitting Franklin was expected to make the roster after a monster performance in spring training, but Topkin notes that Rays’ manager Kevin Cash preferred the more defensively-inclined Daniel Robertson as infield depth.

Franklin, 26, finished a third season in Tampa Bay with career-high numbers in 2016, slashing .270/.328/.443 with six stolen bases and a .771 OPS in 191 PA. He split his time among first base, second base, shortstop and the outfield corners, but his limited range made him marginally useful to the team when he wasn’t at the plate.

Spring training seemed to confirm his role as a bat-first option off the bench. Franklin slashed an impressive .362/.434/.532 in 22 Grapefruit League appearances while competing against outfield options Mallex Smith and Peter Bourjos and infielder Daniel Robertson for a backup spot on the roster. Although his defensive skills have never been described as anything above average, Franklin’s versatility in the infield and outfield and his resurgence at the plate last year should make him an appealing option for teams looking to shore up their offense in 2017.

Police are keeping reporters away from owners at the owners meetings

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The owners meetings are going on in Arlington, Texas right now and something unusual is happening: the owners are using police to shield them from reporters seeking comment.

Chandler Rome, the Astros beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, attempted to talk to Astros owner Jim Crane at the hotel in which the meetings are taking place. Which makes sense because, duh, Rome covers the Astros and, if you haven’t noticed, the Astros are in the news lately.

Here’s how it went:

This was confirmed by other reporters:

To be clear: this is a radically different way things have ever been handled at MLB meetings of any kind. Reporters — who are credentialed specifically for these meetings at this location, they’re not just showing up — approach the GMs or the owners or whoever as they walk in the public parts of the hotel in which they’re held or in the areas designated for press conferences. It’s not contentious. Usually the figures of interest will stop and talk a bit then move on. If they don’t want to talk they just keep walking, often offering apologies or an excuse about being late for something and say they’ll be available later. It’s chill as far as reporters vs. the powerful tend to go.

But apparently not today. Not at the owners meetings. Now police — who are apparently off duty on contract security, but armed and in full official uniform — are shielding The Lords of Baseball from scrutiny.

We live in interesting times.