MLB Notes: Indians have Andrew Miller go on DL, lose Josh Tomlin for 6 weeks

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MLB Notes: Indians have Andrew Miller go on DL, lose Josh Tomlin for 6 weeks

BOSTON -- The Cleveland Indians' pitching staff has taken two big hits: All-Star reliever Andrew Miller is on the disabled list, and starter Josh Tomlin is out six weeks.

Miller was put on the DL on Wednesday with right knee tendinitis, an injury that could explain his recent wildness.

"We talked last night after the game. His knee's been bothering him for a while," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said before the AL Central leaders took on the Red Sox at Fenway Park. "The hope was you can manage it, and he was certainly more than willing.

"But, you know, not just he's yanking pitches, but then I watched him come down the steps and I was like, `man.' So we grabbed him after the game and talked for a while and then we said let's sleep on it. I kind of knew where this was going, and I think he did, too," he said (see full story).

Dodgers: Darvish eager to fit in with new teammates
ATLANTA -- Yu Darvish is eager to avoid making a bad first impression with his new Dodgers teammates.

Darvish, traded from Texas to Los Angeles for three prospects on Monday, joined the Dodgers on Wednesday. The four-time All-Star right-hander threw a bullpen session before Wednesday night's game against Atlanta and settled into his new clubhouse.

Speaking through a translator, the Japanese pitcher said he doesn't want to arrive at midseason, "do whatever you want to do and you're a bad teammate."

Added Darvish: "I don't want to be that guy."

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, currently on the DL with a lower back strain, chatted with Darvish at last month's All-Star game. The conversation including a prediction from Kershaw that the two soon would be teammates.

"When I was talking with him he told me, `I'll be looking for you in about three weeks,' and it actually happened," Darvish said. "It's amazing" (see full story).

Nationals: All-Star closer Kintzler joins club, bolsters ‘pen
MIAMI -- All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler joined the Washington Nationals on Wednesday and shared with manager Dusty Baker his backstory, including three seasons pitching -- and even selling tickets -- in independent leagues.

"It was a very interesting conversation," Baker said. "This guy is probably the independent leagues' pinup boy. He has been through the bushes. I've always heard he's fearless, and now I see why. He has nothing to lose."

The Nationals barely beat the trade deadline Monday to acquire Kintzler, who made the AL All-Star team this season and saved 28 games for the Minnesota Twins. He joins a team with championship aspirations that has built a big lead in the NL East despite the league's worst bullpen ERA.

Kintzler was anticipating a chance to pitch Wednesday night against the Marlins. He spent seven years in the minors before making the majors, and said he was mindful of that while pitching in the All-Star Game last month, also in Miami.

"When I got traded over here I thought, it's going to be the same thing," he said. "I get to come to the big stage with a great team. You never know -- pitching in the World Series is a privilege we all work for."

Brewers: Jeffress glad to rejoin club … again
MILWAUKEE -- Jeremy Jeffress and the Milwaukee Brewers just can't seem to quit each other.

Jeffress was back in the Brewers' clubhouse Wednesday for his third stint with the team. Milwaukee reacquired him on Monday from Texas in exchange for minor-league pitcher Tayler Scott.

"It's definitely a homecoming, man," Jeffress said. "I've always felt comfortable when I'm in this atmosphere in this place. Milwaukee's been nothing but good to me. I'm just glad to be back."

The 29-year-old right-hander, who was with the club in 2010 and from 2014-2016, was traded to the Rangers along with catcher Jonathan Lucroy last August. The Brewers brought him back to bolster their bullpen for a playoff push (see full story).

Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

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Jake Arrieta delights crowd, breaks bats

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Spectrum Field was sold out, filled with fans clad in green and smeared with sunblock for a game against the Atlanta Braves on a festive St. Paddy’s Day.
But the main event Saturday took place several hundred yards away at the minor-league complex, two hours before the big-league game even began.
Five days after signing a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies, Jake Arrieta climbed atop a mound and threw a 31-pitch (two-inning) simulated game. Scott Kingery, Jorge Alfaro, Logan Moore and Andrew Pullin were the hitters. Andrew Knapp was the catcher. Players, coaches, minor-league instructors and manager Gabe Kapler all peeked in. Dozens of fans hugged the chain-link fence to get a look at the newest Phillie. They applauded when Arrieta took the mound and again when he finished.
“It was great,” the 32-year-old pitcher said moments after the workout ended. “There’s a lot of people out here. A lot of people are excited for the Phillies in 2018. We’ve got a lot of good things going on here. A lot of guys are healthy and competing, there’s a lot of youth. It’s a really fun time to be in this organization.”
Arrieta said he felt “really good physically,” not a surprise because he came into camp in terrific shape and had gotten to over 60 pitches in bullpen sessions back home in Austin, Texas. He threw all his pitches, including a couple of knee-buckling curveballs. He broke two of Alfaro’s bats, one with a sinker, one with a cutter.
“My goal was to throw everything in the arsenal for strikes and throw my off-speed pitches in and out of the zone where I could get some chases,” Arrieta said.
Arrieta did allow some contact, mostly ground balls.
Arrieta won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Cubs. He won 22 games and had a 1.77 ERA that season.
A deceptive delivery is one of Arrieta’s strengths. He throws across his body and that crossfire action makes it difficult for a hitter to pick up the ball.
“It’s extremely deceptive,” Kingery said. “Every pitch is extremely deceptive. That’s what hit me. His curveball looks like it’s coming at your head then it drops.”
Arrieta is still hoping to be ready for the first week of the regular season, but the Phillies have not formulated a firm game plan. One thing is certain: They won’t rush him. They want him for the long haul. They could hold him back 10 days or so, allowing him to build more arm strength, and he’d still make 30 starts.
Arrieta expects to throw a bullpen session in the next day or two and try to get up around 60 pitches in his next outing. That could be in a minor-league game or in another simulated game.
“As long as we continue to get my pitch count up, I think I’ll be fine going into the season,” he said.

Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

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Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies signed free-agent right-hander Jake Arrieta earlier this week.

That's probably going to be the extent of their pitching additions for now.

Jerad Eickhoff is out until at least May with a strained right lat muscle and that creates a sizable hole in the Phillies rotation.

The hole is likely to be filled internally, according to general manager Matt Klentak. The team is not likely to make a run at Alex Cobb, who remains on the free-agent market.

"I doubt it," Klentak said when asked if he would look outside the organization to fill Eickhoff's spot. "I don't think we have to. I think a lot of our guys have shown very well in camp. They have gotten their pitch counts up, they're getting to the point of being fully stretched out.

"More than anything, I think we're going to have some tough decisions on figuring out who is in the rotation, who is in the bullpen, who goes into the Triple-A rotation, who goes into the Double-A rotation. We've got a lot of tough decisions to make on that front, but I don't think we're in a position where we have to go outside. We have a lot of candidates to take the ball at the big league level so we'll be fine."

Aaron Nola will start on opening day. Arrieta will be in the rotation, though he might need an extra week or so to get ready. Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are likely to hold down spots. That leaves Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr., Jake Thompson, Drew Hutchison and Tom Eshelman in the running for the final spot in the five-man rotation. Eshelman, strike-thrower extraordinaire, was the Phillies' minor-league pitcher of the year last year and projects to be in Philadelphia before long. However, it might not be at the outset of the season because he is not on the 40-man roster. Neither is Hutchison.

The Phillies do not need a fifth starter until April 11 so they could employ some creative roster construction until then. They could go with four starters and an extra reliever or bench man. Or they could bring an extra starter and "piggyback" him with Arrieta, a move that would allow Arrieta to make an abbreviated start during the first week of the season.

"There's a decent chance we open the season with somewhat of a non-traditional 25-man roster, not because we're trying to be cute but because we don't need the fifth starter until the 11th," Klentak said. "We're going to do whatever puts us in the best position to win those first 10 days of the season."

The Phillies made one transaction on Friday. They added utility man Pedro Florimon to the 40-man roster. He had a provision in his minor-league contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn't on the 40-man roster by March 15. Florimon is a candidate for a spot on the Phillies' bench. The move doesn't guarantee that Florimon will win a spot, but it gives the team more time to evaluate him. To make room for Florimon, the Phillies designated infielder Eliezer Alvarez for assignment.

Florimon homered in the Phillies' 6-4 loss to Toronto in Clearwater Friday. Cam Rupp and Cesar Hernandez also homered. Velasquez gave up five hits and a run in 2⅔ innings. He struck out five.

In Lakeland, Pivetta allowed two runs over five innings as the Phils and Tigers played to a 6-6 tie. J.P. Crawford and Ryan Flaherty both homered.