Phillies

MLB Notes: Owners approve sale of Marlins to Derek Jeter's group

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MLB Notes: Owners approve sale of Marlins to Derek Jeter's group

MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins are Derek Jeter's problem now.

Major league owners on Wednesday unanimously approved the sale of the woebegone franchise by Jeffrey Loria to an investment group led by Jeter and Bruce Sherman. The deal needed 75 percent approval.

A signed $1.2 billion agreement was submitted to Major League Baseball last month to sell the Marlins to a group led by Sherman, a venture capitalist who will be the controlling owner. Jeter, the former New York Yankees captain, plans to be a limited partner in charge of the business and baseball operations.

The closing on the sale is expected within a few days.

"I congratulate Mr. Sherman on receiving approval from the Major League Clubs as the new control person of the Marlins," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, "and look forward to Mr. Jeter's ownership and CEO role following his extraordinary career as a player" (see full story).

Dodgers: Gonzalez to miss playoffs with back injury
LOS ANGELES -- Veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will not be on the Dodgers' NL Division Series roster because of back tightness -- an injury that has plagued him all season -- and is expected to miss the entire postseason.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Wednesday that he and Gonzalez came to the decision mutually.

"As I talked to him, and seeing how his back is and how he's feeling, I was very disappointed," Roberts said. "But I think right now, as it stands, we're going to shut him down so we don't cause more damage, get him ready for next year, and expect him to respond to rest. If something unforeseen does happen to the active guys right now, we might try to revisit Adrian."

The 35-year-old Gonzalez started at first base on Tuesday and went 2-for-4 with a home run, his third this season. That was his first start in 15 days, and by Wednesday, the back problem had flared up again. He is batting .242 with 30 RBIs in 71 games.

Cody Bellinger, an NL Rookie of the Year candidate, figures to start at first base for Los Angeles in the postseason.

The Dodgers (101-57) have the best record in baseball and have clinched home-field advantage through the NLCS. They are still vying for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Giants: Cain to retire after start on Sunday
PHOENIX -- San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain says he'll retire after his start at home on Saturday against San Diego.

The 32-year-old Cain informed teammates of his decision in a closed meeting before Wednesday's game at Chase Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Cain pitched the first perfect game in Giants history in 2012.

Cain, 3-11 this season, made his big-league debut with the Giants in 2005. He pitched in two of the Giants' three winning World Series appearances since 2010. The right-hander has a career record of 104-118 with a 3.69 ERA.

The three-time All-Star is nearing the end of his contract with the Giants, who have an option for one more season.

"His play on the field and community service exemplifies what a true big leaguer should be and he will definitely be missed," Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement. "On behalf of the Giants, I congratulate Matt on an outstanding career and wish him and his family all the best. He'll forever be a Giant."

Before the bottom of the first inning on Wednesday, the crowd at Chase Field was informed of Cain's retirement in a public address announcement. He doffed his cap to the fans and the Diamondbacks dugout in appreciation of the gesture.

Healthy Jerad Eickhoff says, 'The sky is the limit'

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Healthy Jerad Eickhoff says, 'The sky is the limit'

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jerad Eickhoff is an important man in this Phillies season. He needs to be closer to the guy who pitched to a 3.65 ERA in 197 1/3 innings in 2016 than the one who had a 4.71 ERA in 128 innings last season.

It all starts with good health. Eickhoff, 27, missed time with an upper-back strain and a nerve issue near his right shoulder last season.

He is healthy now and has made a tweak in his mechanics to ease pressure on his shoulder. He made his spring debut with two hitless, scoreless innings in a 6-0 exhibition win over the University of Tampa on Thursday (more on the game here). Eickhoff threw 17 pitches, 14 of which were strikes. He struck out two, walked none and hit a batter. 

“No matter what game it is that you pitch in, you get that intensity, there’s a hitter in the box, you still get butterflies being back at it,” Eickhoff said. “Today was a big day, facing some competition. The live batting practice was checking off the first box. A game setting was kind of the second box, so I think the sky is the limit from here. I feel great.”

Eickhoff developed a mechanical flaw last season as his body would often fall toward first base after delivering the ball. That put pressure on his shoulder. He has tried to correct the flaw this winter by holding his glove a little higher before he releases the ball. That helps him get going toward home plate.

If healthy, Eickhoff will be in the starting rotation. (Former bench coach Larry Bowa is high on him). But he’s taking nothing for granted.

“I try to approach every spring like I’m trying to win a job,” Eickhoff said. “I have something to prove every year.”

Notes
• Andrew Knapp caught and batted leadoff. He worked a walk to lead off the game and that impressed manager Gabe Kapler. Kapler advised not to read into batting order positions this early in camp. 

“These are practice settings,” he said.

• The Phillies play their Grapefruit League opener Friday afternoon against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Rotation candidates Nick Pivetta and Mark Leiter Jr. are expected to get some work. Non-roster invite Francisco Rodriguez, he of the 437 career saves, could also get an inning.

Future closer? Power-armed Seranthony Dominguez dazzles in opener

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Future closer? Power-armed Seranthony Dominguez dazzles in opener

CLEARWATER, Fla. — This was a nice little glimpse of the future.

Seven of the eight pitchers used by the Phillies in Thursday’s 6-0 exhibition win over the University of Tampa were prospects who likely need a little more time in the minors, but could someday be mainstays in Philadelphia.

Jerad Eickhoff started and pitched two scoreless innings (see story). After him, prospects Jose Taveras, Tom Eshelman, Franklyn Kilome, Enyel De Los Santos, Seranthony Dominguez, Cole Irvin and Ranger Suarez kept the shutout intact. None of the Phillies’ pitchers walked a batter, though Eickhoff did hit one.

“No walks, that’s fairly unusual for spring training,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It was like Command City. Guys were on top of it.”

Kapler singled out Dominguez, a strong-bodied, power-armed, 23-year-old right-hander who earned a spot on the 40-man roster in November. Dominguez allowed a leadoff single in the seventh then came back with three swinging strikeouts, all on high-80s sliders.

“He maintained his composure, had electric stuff and the bravado of a seasoned veteran,” Kapler said.

Dominguez, signed out of the Dominican Republic for $25,000 in 2012, touched 100 mph with his fastball as a starter in the Florida State League early last season. He ended up missing time with biceps tendinitis, but is healthy now. The Phillies have reduced his pitch mix from four to three (fastball, slider, changeup) and he will convert to the bullpen, where he profiles as a potential closer, this season. He is likely to open at Double A Reading. Don’t rule out seeing him in Philadelphia later this season if all goes well.

“As a bullpen guy, he could be a quick mover,” general manager Matt Klentak said.

“He has a top-of-the-scale fastball,” director of player development Joe Jordan said. “He has a chance to really dominate in the late innings.”