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Derek Jeter’s Injury Setback Is No Reason for Yankees to Worry

The optimism Derek Jeter’s spring debut brought to the New York Yankees is receding after the legendary shortstop’s ankle injury forced him back onto the bench, but there is still no reason for the ball club to worry at this point.

USA Today’s Chad Jennings reported the following on Jeter’s setback: “New York manager Joe Girardi said that Jeter was flexing the ankle a lot during batting practice. Jeter eventually went to trainer Steve Donohue, who then told Girardi, who made the lineup change.”

Jeter broke his ankle in the first game of the American League Championship Series but was able to return to the lineup for his first spring training game on March 9, just under five months after his injury. 

On March 14, he was allowed to take up his usual position at shortstop. Up until this point, Jeter had been making stellar progress in the rehabilitation process. 

After 18 years and 2,743 total games in those iconic pinstripes, Jeter has achieved superhero status. Every time he puts on his Yankee uniform, he goes from Clark Kent to Superman.

But he is 38 years old and coming off of a major injury. Jeter’s ability to recover quickly from injuries is not the same as it was a decade ago, and he knows this.

Jennings quotes him saying, “‘I’m not concerned, because I was told this was going to happen.” Jeter is aware that there will be days where his ankle simply won’t let him play pain-free.

The Yankees wasted no chances and rushed him in for an MRI, and it revealed what Jeter suspected.

The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Barbarisi reported the following via Twitter:

With Opening Day still two weeks away, there is no reason to push his limits. Pennants are not won or lost in April, and Jeter appears to have recognized that his most important task is to be fully healthy for the fall. 

His absence is not a reason for Yankees fans to worry, and there still should not be cause for concern if he sits out for another few games. This is part of the rehab process for an older player, and Yankees fans should remain calm for now. 

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Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter Return to Action in Spring Training

The New York Yankees may be struggling in spring training, but the team got a lift when future Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter returned from the injuries they suffered last season for their debuts.

Jeter broke his ankle during the 2012 postseason, and Rivera tore his ACL while catching fly balls during batting practice before a game in May.

Their presence did not stop the Yankees from losing 2-1 to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday and dropping to 3-11 in their exhibition games thus far.  

But both players performed well in their debuts. Jeter went 1-for-2 with a single, and Rivera struck out two batters without allowing a hit during his lone inning on the mound.

Still, the team is being cautious with its aging stars. Jeter did not play his usual shortstop position and was instead used as the designated hitter. However, he felt good about his outing, with the Associated Press recap (via of the game quoting him saying, “Everything was fine. It’s good to get back into a game. Now, it’s normal spring training. Get more and more comfortable.”

Jeter is 38 years old and received surgery on October 20 to repair his ankle. He received clearance to resume playing this past Thursday.

Rivera’s comeback is more surprising. He is 43 years old and had surgery on his knee on June 12, putting him just nine months out from the operation.

The veteran closer does not appear to be wasting time preparing for the season, which he recently announced would be the final one of his illustrious career.  

With the two players who defined the Yankees during the Steinbrenner era back in the lineup, the Yankees will hope to start looking better in their spring training games.

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Marlins Elect Not to Recognize Death of Hugo Chavez Before Game vs. Venezuela

The Miami Marlins played an exhibition game against Team Venezuela, set to take part in the World Baseball Classic, and recently deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was not remembered with a moment of silence before the contest.

As CNN’s Mariano Castillo and Osmary Hernandez reported on Tuesday, Chavez died after a lengthy battle with cancer. The South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Craig Davis reported the following on the exhibition in Miami: 

A Marlins spokesman said all parties involved in the exhibition, including Major League Baseball, agreed to not have the moment of silence for Chavez, which was requested by a representative of the Venezuelan team.

The Venezuelan flag in the stadium was lowered to half staff for a few minutes, then raised again.

Chavez became a polarizing figure after ascending to the presidency in 1999. He attracted negative attention in the United States due to his extreme criticism of George W. Bush, including an incident when he called the former U.S. president “the devil” in front of the United Nations General Assembly.

But his domestic policies were equally as divisive, with CNN’s report noting that his suppression of media and other branches of the Venezuelan government led to accusations that he was running a dictatorial regime. 

CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet and Dana Ford note that Chavez’s death was met with wildly different reactions in his home country, with some Venezuelans taking to the street to mourn publicly and others actively avoiding these demonstrations, suggesting their disapproval of the late president.

Due to Chavez’s controversial nature as a political figure, Major League Baseball, the Miami Marlins and Team Venezuela were in a predicament over how to deal with his death.

Ultimately, the compromise of a subdued acknowledgment of Chavez’s passing was a wise way to ensure that an exhibition baseball game did not end up in the middle of a contentious political issue.  

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MLB Reportedly to Investigate Brewers’ Ryan Braun’s Link to Miami PED Clinic

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and former National League MVP Ryan Braun beat accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs once during his career, but he will have to do so again after his name has reportedly shown up on documents from the Biogenesis clinic.

Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown and Jeff Passan reported the following: 

Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun’s name is in records of the Miami-area clinic alleged to have distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a rash of baseball players, and Major League Baseball will investigate the link to the former MVP who tested positive for illegal synthetic testosterone during the 2011 postseason.


UPDATE: Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 9:10 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos

In response to his name being mentioned in connection with Biogenesis, Braun released the following statement, via beat writer Adam McCalvy’s Brew Beat blog:

During the course of preparing for my successful appeal last year, my attorneys, who were previously familiar with Tony Bosch, used him as a consultant. More specifically, he answered questions about T/E ratio and possibilities of tampering with samples.

There was a dispute over compensation for Bosch’s work, which is why my lawyer and I are listed under ‘moneys owed’ and not on any other list.

I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch.

I will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter.

End of update


The Biogenesis clinic had been creating headlines recently for allegedly supplying New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez with steroids. As Brown and Passan note, the clinic’s director, Anthony Bosch, is at the center of the scandal in which several MLB players received banned substances.

According to the report, Bosch’s records contain the notation “RB 20-30K”, which is believed to be Braun’s initials followed by the amount of money he owed.

Braun is treading on a familiar path. During the 2011 playoffs, a urine sample he provided tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. The left fielder was subsequently suspended for 50 games, but he appealed the ruling and became the first player to have such a punishment reversed.

The recent allegations against Braun come after a Biogenesis employee leaked records to The New York Times. Brown and Passan later notes that Miami (Fla.) strength and conditioning coach Jimmy Goins was allegedly a client of the clinic and has connections to several of the players implicated in the investigation. 

The Brewers’ star is a former Hurricane, as is Detroit Tigers pitcher Cesar Carrillo, who is also linked to Bosch. Brown and Passan’s report also mentions that Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez and San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal have connections to Goins as well.

Braun salvaged his reputation with an impassioned speech following the first steroid allegations he dealt with, but doing so again will be extremely difficult. 

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Ryan Freel: Tragic Death Reminder That Head Injuries Are Danger to All Athletes

The sports world was tasked with trying to learn from another tragedy on Saturday when former Cincinnati Reds utility man Ryan Freel was found dead in his apartment. 

Jennifer Kay of the Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports) reported, “Freel, who was 36, died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted shotgun wound.”

Freel was a popular player throughout his career due to his reckless style. But playing without fear did not come without consequences, and Kay notes that Freel “once estimated he had sustained up to 10 concussions.” 

Currently, there has been no autopsy or official cause of death released, and there is absolutely no current evidence to link Freel’s tragic death with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain diseased caused by repeated head injury.

But when an athlete who was adored and looked up to during his career dies by his own hand, the public tries to make sense of the incident. As was the case with Jovan Belcher‘s and Jerry Brown’s deaths, the country wondered what could be learned from these types of tragedies. 

Belcher’s murder/suicide sparked a conversation about a gun culture in sports, while the car accident that led to Brown’s death caused discussions about the prevalence of drunken driving among professional athletes.

With Freel’s death, head injuries and CTE will be the focus of a national conversation. 

Slate’s Daniel Engber raises important questions about the lack of conclusive findings linking suicides to CTE and notes that there are many factors in a person’s life that can lead to suicide. In the case of Junior Seau’s death earlier this year, he writes, “Seau was beset with a smorgasbord of risk factors for suicide, regardless of the state of his brain.”

But a growing amount of research from organizations such as the Sports Legacy Institute is providing more answers about the disease. While it may be difficult at this to identify a history of concussions as the sole—or even main—cause of a suicide, SLI’s website notes, “The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, paranoia, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.” 

The conflicting opinions on the impact of CTE on professional athletes is one of the most intriguing and important debates in sports, and Freel’s tragic death adds important insight into the conversation. 

Whether or not evidence is found proving that he suffered from the disease, his death follows the basic pattern of athletes such as Dave Duerson and Mike Webster: a history of serious head injuries followed by a suicide several years after retirement.

But Freel was a baseball player, not a football player. The current conversation surrounding CTE is centered almost entirely around football, and the majority of the athletes brought up as examples of those who suffered from the disease are NFL alumni.

SLI’s website notes that the condition was originally known as “punch drunk syndrome” and was thought to occur mainly in boxers. Now, football players are the poster children for head injuries, but the conditions surrounding Freel’s death should serve as a reminder that athletes in all sports are at risk.

People who play baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey and a number of other sports for a living all put themselves in positions to sustain repeated head injuries across the course of their career.

CTE is not a problem exclusive to football players, and that is one lesson that should be taken away from Freel’s tragic death. 

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Phillies and D-Backs Reportedly Discussing Cliff Lee, Justin Upton Swap

The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly in discussions with the Arizona Diamondbacks over a deal involving All-Stars Justin Upton and Cliff Lee. 

ESPN’s Pedro Gomez reported the news via Twitter, noting that Philadelphia would need to add cash in order to obtain the 25-year-old slugger.

However, Nick Piecoro of noted that Gomez’ rumor may not stand up to scrutiny.

Upton batted .280 win an OPS of .785 this season. He had 17 home runs and a career-high 107 runs scored.

He continued to flash the talent that made him the first overall pick in the 2005 MLB draft, but did not live up to the standard he set in the 2009 and 2011 seasons. The right fielder had an OPS of .898 in both of these campaigns, in addition to hitting over 25 home runs and surpassing 20 stolen bases. 

The Phillies would be adding a young player who had proven he can be productive, but also likely has his best days ahead of him. Philadelphia traded both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence in the middle of the 2012 season and would certainly benefit from adding an outfielder.

Lee has been an All-Star in three of the past five seasons and is coming off a campaign in which he went 6-9 and posted an ERA of 3.16. The lefty signed a five-year, $120 million deal in Philadelphia as a free agent in 2010.

Arizona finished 15th in the majors in team ERA this past season, and adding a pitcher of Lee’s caliber will help the staff improve on this mediocre production.

Both teams have motivation to pull off the deal, and fans in both Philadelphia and Phoenix will have to wait and see if Gomez’ rumor ends up turning into reality. 

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MLB Rumors: Ranking Josh Hamilton’s Most Ideal Landing Spots

Josh Hamilton has drawn widespread interest from across Major League Baseball, and he will have his pick of which talented lineup he will bolster next season.

The 31-year-old slugger has had some major bumps on his road to stardom, but he has been an All-Star in the last five seasons and won the AL MVP in 2010. Individual awards litter his résumé, but he has fallen just short of a World Series championship twice in his career. 

With so many options in free agency, Hamilton has the opportunity to find a franchise that will pay him handsomely, give him an excellent chance to continue his individual success and, most importantly, allow him to play for a team that will compete for a title.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the Seattle Marines, Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves have all shown interest in Hamilton, while WEEI’s Rob Bradford added the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox to that list.

Here are the teams that would be the best fits for Hamilton.


3. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies relinquished their standing as a National League powerhouse this season and ended up trading Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the deadline, but there is still a significant amount of talent on the team.

With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the rotation, the team’s pitching is still a serious force.

At the plate, Philadelphia needs help after ranking 19th in runs scored this past season. Putting Hamilton in the order next to Ryan Howard would certainly give the team an offensive boost. 

It was an off year for the Phillies, but this team is capable of bouncing back and returning to championship form. Hamilton just may be the spark they need to do so.


2. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles were one of this season’s biggest surprises as they finished 93-69 and made the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

Buck Showalter has this team on the rise, and Hamilton has the ability to help continue that trend.

While Hamilton would likely have to move away from his traditional position in center field due to Adam Jones’ firm hold on the starting spot there, Baltimore certainly has room for him in the outfield. 

The offensive production from Jones and Hamilton would push this team to the next level, and the Orioles would be a legitimate contender with the superstar free-agent slugger.


1. Atlanta Braves

While the Phillies and the Orioles do provide decent fits for Hamilton, the Braves should be his top option. 

After winning the NL East in 11 consecutive seasons starting in 1995, Atlanta has not captured a division title since 2005. The franchise is looking to once again return to dominance and win its first World Series since 1995.

Hamilton would add a significant amount of offense to a mediocre lineup, giving the Braves quality hitting to complement their excellent pitching. The team finished fifth in team ERA in 2012 while checking in at 17th in runs scored. 

There is no better fit for Hamilton than Atlanta, as they are the suitor that will give him the best chance to win a title. 

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MLB Wild Card Format 2012: Breaking Down Playoff Changes and Tiebreak Scenarios

The end of the 2012 MLB regular season has nearly arrived and both leagues have exciting playoff races that are continuing to heat up.

The Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants have all clinched postseason spots in the National League. The American League remains wide open and any team could still be heading home after October 3.

With new playoff rules in place, five teams from each league will make the playoffs as there are two wild cards instead of just one. Competition for those spots will be extremely tight.

Here is everything you need to know about this year’s playoff race.


Winning the Division is Important

One of the MLB’s primary motivations in adjusting the postseason format was to give division winners a marked advantage in the playoffs over wild card teams.

The two wild cards from each league will face each other in a one-game playoff, with the winners moving on to the Division Series against the team with the best record. Under the new format, it does not matter if the two teams facing each other in this round are from the same division.

Previously, it made little difference if a team entered the postseason as a wild card or a division winner. But now, teams that win their division will have the safety of a five-game series to defeat their first opponent, while wild card teams must lay their season on the line in one game. 

Currently, the Reds and the Giants are the only teams who have clinched their divisions.



The new playoff format also comes with a new set of tiebreak rules. With each tiebreak scenario, teams will have to earn their spot in the postseason by settling the deadlock on the field.

The simplest scenario involves two teams tying for a division title or a wild card spot, in which case they would simply play one game to determine who receives the spot in question.

But there are multiple headache-inducing scenarios that can arise if three or four teams finish with the same records while competing for a playoff spot.

In these situations, teams will be designated a letter (A, B, C or D) based on several different factors. These letters are a form of seeding teams, and based on how many teams are involved in the tie—as well as whether they are playing for a division title, a wild card spot or both—the teams will play one or two games to determine who makes it to the postseason.


How the Race Currently Looks

American League

If the season ended today, the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers would win their respective divisions, while the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland Athletics would be the wild cards.

The Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays are two and three games off of the two teams in the wild card spots, respectively. With four teams this close to each other there is a realistic possibility of tie breakers being needed to sort out the wild card spots.

The Chicago White Sox are six games back in the wild card race but are just one game back from the Tigers in the AL Central. The Yankees and the Orioles are also separated by just one game in the AL East, and these two divisions offer the best chances of a tie breaker.


National League

The playoff picture in the NL is significantly clearer than in the AL. The Giants and the Reds have clinched their divisions, while the Braves and Nationals are battling for the NL East title, with the loser earning a wild card spot. This will likely be Atlanta, as Washington holds a four-game lead.

As it stands, the St. Louis Cardinals would receive the last entry into the postseason, with the Los Angeles Dodgers lurking three games back. If a tiebreaker game is needed to settle anything in the NL, it will likely be between the Cardinals and Dodgers for this last playoff spot.

The Milwaukee Brewers are hanging on by a thread, as they sit five games back of the Cardinals with five games to play. 

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Roger Clemens: Grades, Analysis and More from Rocket’s Return

Roger Clemens made his first start for the Sugarland Skeeters on Saturday night, and the 50-year-old was remarkably effective on the mound.

He pitched three and one-third innings and gave up just one hit and no runs while recording two strikeouts. He left the game when the Skeeters were up 1-0.

Clemens and the Skeeters—based in the Houston, Texas area—took on the Bridgeport Bluefish in an Atlantic League matchup. The league is not affiliated with Major League Baseball, but it does maintain a high level of competition and former big-leaguers Scott Kazmir, Tim Redding and Jason Lane all on the Skeeters’ pitching staff.

Clemens’ comeback comes on the heels of his acquittal for obstruction of justice charges that stem from accusations that he lied to Congress in 2008 about using steroids. 

He signed with the Skeeters on August 21 and has refused to acknowledge whether or not this is a temporary stop on the road to something bigger. If he does hope for a return to the majors, he made an intriguing case for the opportunity to become the oldest man ever to win a Major League Baseball game.

Here are grades and analysis from his first outing since 2007.


Speed: B+

Clemens’ fastball peaked at 88 miles per hour. While this is not impressive by major league standards, most 50-year-olds would have a heart attack if they did anything at this speed.

He was able to mix up his pitches to allow his fastball to be more effective. His speed was nothing close to the ridiculous numbers he used to put on radar guns, but it was good enough to allow him to get outs.


Control: A+

The Rocket could not rely on the firepower that he had earlier in his career, but he was remarkably accurate throughout his three innings of work. His mechanics were flawless, and he was incredibly consistent with his placement.

He retired 10 out of the 11 batters he faced. He got 10 outs on just 37 pitches, as his excellent control was the main reason he was able to succeed on the night.


Overall: A-

Clemens easily exceeded expectations for a 50-year-old player who had not played professionally in five years. He struck out two batters while getting four to ground out and four more to fly out.

This is the kind of the savvy pitching that a 35-year-old pitcher needs to succeed. Clemens is 50, so he will have to be even craftier going forward, and he showed tonight that he is capable of doing just that at a high level.


What This Performance Means

Clemens passed his first test with flying colors. Whatever he is trying to accomplish with this comeback, he has taken a big step forward with this performance.

If this is a farewell tour to put an image of Clemens with a baseball uniform on his back instead of a suit and tie back into the public conscience, then he has succeeded.

If Clemens is sincerely trying to play Major League Baseball again, then he certainly caught the attention of any any scout watching him tonight.


Where Clemens Goes From Here

At his age, as much rest and ice as possible should be on his agenda in the coming days. After that, he must stay healthy and continue to play like he did tonight.

If he can avoid an injury and exercise the same control over his pitches, then he may not be with the Skeeters for much longer. 

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Report: Josh Beckett Will Make Dodgers Debut on Monday vs. Rockies

The Los Angeles Dodgers will not waste time getting newly acquired Josh Beckett on the mound as he will make his first start for the club on Monday.

Beckett was sent to L.A. along with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto for James Loney, Allen Webster, Ivan De Jesus, Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands, according to ESPN’s Mark Saxon.

Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti announced that Beckett would be pitching in Monday’s game after the trade became official, according to Drew Silva of NBC’s Hardball Talk. Silva notes that Beckett will be taking the place of Chad Billingsley, who according to the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez, will not be back in the lineup anytime soon.

Beckett’s first start will be a divisional battle against the Colorado Rockies. The game will be at Coors Field and will start at 8:40 p.m. ET.

Colletti and Dodgers fans will be hoping that Beckett performs better in Los Angeles than he has in Boston this season. The 6’5″, 220-pound right-hander is 5-11 in 21 outings this season with a 5.23 ERA. He has recorded 94 strikeouts and 38 walks in 127.1 innings pitched.

He has faced controversy this season due to his lackluster production and an incident where he was seen playing golf the day after missing a start due to injury. The Dodgers will need him to be more focused on baseball as they try to make a run in the postseason.

Beckett’s playoff numbers are the most encouraging sign of his possible success with his new team; he is 7-3 with 3.07 ERA and 99 strikeouts compared to 21 walks in 93.2 innings.

With the season winding down, Monday’s game will provide hints as to how committed Beckett is to succeeding with the Dodgers.

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