Phillies

MLB Notes: Nationals ace Max Scherzer (fractured finger) likely to miss Opening Day

MLB Notes: Nationals ace Max Scherzer (fractured finger) likely to miss Opening Day

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer probably will miss the Washington Nationals' opener against Miami on April 3 because of a stress fracture in his right ring finger.

The stress fracture caused Scherzer to change the grip on his fastball, placing three fingers on top of the ball instead of two.

Scherzer has thrown batting practice twice during spring training but has not appeared in a big league exhibition game. He was scheduled to pitch in a minor league exhibition Thursday.

Manager Dusty Baker says of Scherzer's opening-day availability: "At this point, probably no."

"Opening day I'm sure is important to him but not as important as the rest of the season," the manager adds.

A 32-year-old right-hander, Scherzer was 20-7 last season.

Baker says: "I'm sure he's not thinking DL. We're not thinking DL until that time gets here. If that time gets here, we'll make alternative plans."

MARLINS: Report says Fernandez likely operating boat during deadly accident
MIAMI -- A Florida Fish and Wildlife investigation in the boat crash that killed Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two other men concluded the 24-year-old star was likely operating the vessel when it struck a jetty.

An agency report released Thursday included a chart listing the "probable seating location of occupants" from evidence collected after the crash off Miami Beach.

Fernandez and two others died when the pitcher's 32-foot boat struck a jetty just after 3 a.m. last Sept. 25. The report says the boat hit at 65.7 mph.

A previous toxicology report determined alcohol and drugs were a factor, adding the trio spent time at a Miami bar beforehand.

Tampa-based attorney Ralph E. Fernandez, a family friend, had questioned whether the pitcher was driving. He didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.  

MLB: Roberto Alomar hired by MLB as special consultant
NEW YORK -- Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar has been hired by Major League Baseball as a special consultant and tasked with focusing on youth development in Puerto Rico.

The 49-year-old, inducted to the Hall in 2011, is to serve as an ambassador at events and development initiatives on the island, including youth clinics and tournaments. MLB has been concerned about the drop in Puerto Rican big leaguers: the 17 on opening day last year were the most on opening day since 20 in 2011 but down from a record 53 during the 2001 season.

A member of Toronto's World Series championship teams in 1992 and `93, Alomar was a 12-time All-Star during a big league career that spanned 1988-2004 with San Diego, the Blue Jays, Baltimore, Cleveland, the New York Mets, the Chicago White Sox and Arizona.

He was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and his father, Sandy, and brother, Sandy Jr., also were major leaguers.

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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AP Images

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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USA Today Images

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.