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Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.

Yankees, Brett Gardner reunite on one-year, $12.5 million deal

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George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Yankees and outfielder Brett Gardner are back together on a one-year, $12.5 million contract. The deal includes a second year option worth $20 million.

Gardner, 36, is coming off of the strongest offensive season of his career, batting .251/.325/.503 with 28 home runs, 74 RBI, 86 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases over 550 plate appearances. While he has certainly lost a step or two with age, he still rates as an above-average defensive corner outfielder as well.

As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, the Yankees also value Gardner — a veteran of 12 seasons — for his leadership, especially with CC Sabathia and Didi Gregorius gone.

Bringing Gardner back into the fold allows Giancarlo Stanton to remain the full-time DH. Gardner will return to left field with Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge reprising their roles in center and right, respectively.