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Doug Fister retires

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The agent of pitcher Doug Fister, Page Odle, told MLB.com’s Jon Morosi that his client is retiring. Odle said, “”He’s been contemplating this for a couple months. The main reason is that he wants to start a new chapter in his life. This is 100 percent family driven. He’s really excited about being a dad and husband. He’s very much a family-oriented guy.”

Fister, 35, spent parts of 10 seasons in the majors with the Mariners, Tigers, Nationals, Astros, Red Sox, and Rangers. He retires with a 3.72 career ERA along with 970 strikeouts in 1,422 1/3 innings. His two best seasons came in 2011 with the Mariners and Tigers (2.83 ERA) and in 2014 with the Nationals (2.41 ERA; eighth-place finish in Cy Young Award balloting). Fister battled injuries as he entered his mid-30’s, starting just 15 games for the Red Sox in 2017 and 12 games for the Rangers last year.

According to Morosi, Fister received multiple major league contract offers, so he could have pitched another season if he wanted to, but has opted to spend more time with his family, understandably.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.