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Rays, pitching coach Jim Hickey part ways

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that pitching coach Jim Hickey and the Rays have mutually agreed to part ways. Hickey had been the Rays’ pitching coach since 2007. Topkin adds that Hickey was under contract for 2018, but both sides felt it was time for a change.

The Rays weren’t particularly disappointing in the pitching department this year. The club allowed 4.35 runs per game in aggregate, the fifth-best mark in the American League and about a third of a run better than the league average.

Given Hickey’s reputation, he should latch on with another team quickly. The Cardinals and Mets are two teams with current openings for a pitching coach.

The Rays are expected to name Kyle Snyder as the new pitching coach and move Charlie Montoyo to bench coach, per Topkin.

Mookie Betts, Javier Baez leading off the All-Star lineups

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I can’t imagine what it’s like to fill out the lineup card for an All-Star team. Most of the guys are 1-4 hitters on their own teams, but you gotta slot most of them someplace lower. Egos are probably a consideration. Strategic stuff. “Which top of the order or middle of the lineup hitter is batting eighth?” is both a difficult and thankless question.

Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch have to do it anyway, and today they released the All-Star lineups. Seeing Bryce Harper batting sixth and Manny Machado batting seventh is just not part of the usual baseball experience:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Mike Trout, CF
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B
6. Aaron Judge, LF
7. Manny Machado, SS
8. Jose Abreu, 1B
9. Salvador Perez, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Javier Baez, 2B
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B
3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B
5. Matt Kemp, LF
6. Bryce Harper, CF
7. Nick Markakis, RF
8. Brandon Crawford, SS
9. Willson Contreras, C

Not that this is gonna hold for long what with all of the substitutions.