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Former Yankees hitting coach Rick Down dies at 68

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Rick Down, who was the hitting coach for the New York Yankees and several other clubs, has passed away at the age of 68. He died at his home following a long illness.

Down served two stints as the Yankees hitting coach, from 1993-95 and then again from 2002-03. He held the same job with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles and Mets over the years. He was likewise a good minor league manager, leading the Triple-A Columbus Clippers — then a Yankees affiliate — to three consecutive division titles from 1990-92 and a franchise-record 95 wins in 1992. He would, unfortunately, be bypassed for major league managerial jobs, though he did manage in Winter League ball many times and served as an advanced scout and hitting coordinator.

Down never made the big leagues as a player, but a lot of that had to do with the fact that he was an outfielder in the Montreal Expos system when that organization was just loaded with outfielders, including Andre Dawson, Ellis Valentine, Warren Cromartie and Jerry White. He retired as a player in his late 20s before embarking on his long and successful coaching career.

Report: Astros, Ryan Pressly close to agreement on two-year, $17.5 million extension

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Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Astros and reliever Ryan Pressly are close to finalizing a two-year, $17.5 million contract extension, which will also include a third-year vesting club option. Rome notes that the extension is believed to be the largest, in terms of both total money and average annual value, for a reliever who is not a closer.

Pressly, 30, agreed to a $2.9 million salary for the 2019 season back in January, avoiding arbitration in his final year of eligibility. The Astros acquired Pressly from the Twins near the end of July in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Pressly posted a 3.40 ERA in 47 2/3 innings with the Twins and a 0.77 ERA in 23 1/3 innings with the Astros. In the playoffs, Pressly allowed just one run on one hit and three walks with seven strikeouts across five innings of work.

Along with Héctor Rondón, Pressly will once again help bridge the gap to closer Roberto Osuna.