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Indians sign Matt Belisle to minor-league deal

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Free agent reliever Matt Belisle picked up a minor-league contract with the Indians, the team announced Sunday. Per ESPN’s Buster Olney, Belisle will receive $1.5 million if he makes the big league roster and can earn an additional $1.75 million in bonuses.

Belisle, 37, is coming off of a one-year gig with the Twins, during which he fired a 4.03 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 and 8.1 SO/9 through 60 1/3 innings. Following Brandon Kintzler‘s midseason trade to the Nationals, the veteran righty got a taste of the closer’s role during the second half of the season and finished 20 games with a career-high nine saves.

The Indians are projected to start the season with a bullpen comprised of closer Cody Allen, right-handers Dan Otero, Zach McAllister and Nick Goody and left-handers Andrew Miller and Tyler Olson. According to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Belisle is expected to compete with fellow veteran right-hander and non-roster invitee Carlos Torres for the remaining spot. The 35-year-old Torres signed a minors deal with the club last week and carried a 4.21 ERA, 4.1 B/9 and 6.9 SO/9 in 72 2/3 innings for the Brewers in 2017.

Aaron Hicks would like to avoid Tommy John surgery

Aaron Hicks
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The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.

One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.

Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.

Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.