Ian Kennedy signs minor league contract with Rangers

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
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SURPRISE, Ariz. — Right-hander Ian Kennedy has signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, and will be in major league spring training with a chance to be compete for a spot in their bullpen.

New Rangers general manager Chris Young, a former teammate of Kennedy’s in Kansas City, said Tuesday the 36-year-old Kennedy brings a veteran presence after playing for four different teams over 14 big league seasons.

“He has to earn the spot, and he’s perfectly comfortable that,” Young said. “Ian called me right after we finalized the deal and actually thanked me for not reaching out to him. He had a lot of teams, and personal relationships throughout the game, reaching out to him, and he said actually that played into it, the fact that I didn’t reach out to him personally.”

Kennedy spent the past five seasons with Kansas City, where he made the transition from starter to reliever the past two years. He had his only 30 MLB saves in 2019, but was limited to one start and 14 relief appearances last season because of a left calf injury. Young and Kennedy were with the Royals together in 2016 and 2017.

In 290 starts and 79 relief appearances, Kennedy is 97-105 with a 4.13 ERA. He had a career-high 21 wins in 2011 for Arizona.

Kennedy began his big league career with the New York Yankees (2007-09), before pitching for the Diamondbacks (2010-13), San Diego (2013-15) and the Royals (2016-20).

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.