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Tigers sign GM Al Avila to contract extension

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Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that the Detroit Tigers have signed general manager Al Avila to a contract extension.
The details of the extension are not yet known. His current contract had been set to expire after the 2020 season.

Avila took over as the Tigers’ GM in August of 2015 following the dismissal of Dave Dombrowski. At that time the Tigers were coming off of four straight AL Central titles but, thanks to a rash of injuries, finished in last place, and posted a losing record for the first time since 2008. The trade deadline that year saw the team deal David Price, Yoenis Céspedes and Joakim Soria. While they would bounce back to a second place finish in 2016, Avila’s early tenure brought with it the beginning of the end of the Tigers’ decade-long period of contention and the beginning of a rebuild that hit full speed in 2017 following the death of owner Michael Ilitch, the trades of Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez, and the subsequent firing of manager Brad Ausmus.

How’s the rebuild going? It’s honestly too early to tell. Avila’s drafts since taking over have received mixed reviews, as have the returns he has gotten for players he has traded away. There are some segments of Tigers fandom that are down on the rebuild and believe that Avila’s marching orders prioritize keeping payroll down over returning to contention. Then agin, no rebuilds have ever been super popular among most fans, and the proof of this one will be in the won-loss record, say, two or three years from now.

Either way, this extension is a signal from new owner Christopher Ilitch that he likes how the rebuild is proceeding and wants Avila to see it through.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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