Nationals

Jason Bay hoping for a fresh start in Seattle

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Jason Bay hoping for a fresh start in Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) Jason Bay took a glance at the Seattle Mariners' 40-man roster and suddenly realized how unique he will be.

He's one of only two players on that current roster who was born in the 1970s.

``I don't feel like I'm that old, but I guess I am around here,'' the 34-year-old Bay said Monday.

While he may not exactly fit the Mariners' model of relying on young prospects to rebuild the franchise, Bay could fill a significant need for Seattle in the 2013 season. He was introduced on Monday after his one-year contract with the Mariners was finalized over the weekend.

Bay said he hopes a fresh start with the Mariners can put three seasons of struggles - mostly due to injuries - with the New York Mets in the past.

``Where ever I ended up was going to be a fresh start and the chance to do it here in my backyard, so to speak, will be nice,'' said Bay, who grew up in British Columbia and played college ball at Gonzaga. ``That's all I was looking for. It didn't work out for whatever reason and it was kind of a mutual split. I want to start fresh and wipe the slate clean and that's what I get to do here.''

After signing a $66 million, four-year deal before the 2010 season, the three-time All-Star hit .234 in three injury-plagued seasons with 26 homers and 124 RBIs, including a .165 average with eight homers and 20 RBIs this year. Sidelined by concussions and rib injuries, he played just 288 games for the Mets.

Bay's contract with the Mets was terminated last month. Bay was owed $16 million for next season and a $3 million buyout of a 2014 option, plus the final $2 million installment of his $8.5 million signing bonus was payable by next June. The agreement to terminate his deal allowed the Mets to spread out the payments.

It also made Bay a low-risk, potential high-reward deal for whoever he signed with. An All-Star in 2005, 2006 and 2009, Bay signed with the Mets after hitting .267 in his final season for Boston with career bests of 36 homers and 119 RBIs.

``I got banged up a little bit. Not an excuse, just the reality and that didn't help. I don't think that was the No. 1 reason,'' Bay said. ``I just think I couldn't really get on track. I couldn't just move forward. I was always stuck in one gear and I couldn't get going.''

Because of his injury history, the Mariners went to great lengths once an agreement was reached. Bay was examined by two team doctors and a neurosurgeon to make sure he was fully recovered from the concussion problems that lingered during his time with the Mets.

Bay said he's been fully engaged in his offseason workout program for the last six weeks.

``I've gotten great reports on his winter program, what he's doing right now being very prepared for the season,'' Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. ``It just feels like the right thing to do.''

Bay said he'll take whatever role he can earn with Seattle, even if that means being in a platoon in the outfield. Manager Eric Wedge said if Bay can revert to the form he had in Boston and Pittsburgh, he could be exactly the right-handed bat the Mariners lineup needs.

While Seattle's lineup is heavy on youth and left-handed hitters, Jesus Montero and his .260 average was the only Seattle right-handed hitter who played more than half the season to hit above .230.

``He brings a lot that we just don't have here,'' Wedge said.

Seattle doesn't expect this to be the end of its search for offense. The Mariners have been linked to discussions with Josh Hamilton and Nick Swisher, among other free agent options. As usual, Zduriencik remained tight-lipped about where things stand.

``We're going through a lot of dialogue,'' he said. ``We have a lot of discussions going with different angles and we'll see where it all ends up at. Right now people are weighing their options and trying to figure out what's best for the client and player, and we're trying to be fairly aggressive.''

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42-year-old reliever Fernando Rodney will get a chance to prove he still has it for the Nationals

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42-year-old reliever Fernando Rodney will get a chance to prove he still has it for the Nationals

The Nationals are filling their open 40- and 25-man roster spot with veteran reliever Fernando Rodney on Tuesday, a source confirmed. 

Rodney, 42, is joining the Nationals bullpen after nine appearances for Triple-A Fresno which produced a 4.50 ERA and 2.125 WHIP. He was released earlier this season by Oakland after a rough start led to a 9.42 ERA. He will become the oldest active pitcher in baseball once added to the roster Tuesday.

This is a desperate swing by Washington to find help for a bullpen which entered Monday 29th in bullpen ERA. When Rodney was at this best -- something Nationals manager Dave Martinez saw in Tampa Bay -- he threw an almost unhittable changeup. It remains an effective pitch, if he can control it or his fastball. Command of both often give him trouble. However, the unpredictable nature of his pitching -- for better or worse -- is something that provides an odd duality. It can make him both ultra-effective or a ticking bomb. It almost always assures laborious outings.

Washington will be the 11th major-league team to employ Rodney in his 17 years of professional baseball. Being a three-time All-Star and former closer defines his on-field reputation. Randomly barking in the bullpen, shooting an imaginary arrow following a save or operating with a tilted cap exemplify the rest of Rodney's makeup. He once carried a "lucky plantain" at the World Baseball Classic. When pitching for Seattle in 2014, Rodney explained his bow-and-arrow gimmick like this: 

“The arrow? I don’t know,” Rodney said. “Just do something after the last out. Out 27. You know the game is over. I shoot the moon. I shoot the arrow, just let them know game over.

“That’s my game. Every time I go pitch, I do my arrow. That’s what the fans are waiting for. Rodney shoot the moon.”

He won't be on the mound to end a game in 2019 unless it is in mop-up duty. 

Multiple relief choices existed in Fresno for the Nationals. Few were good. Dakota Bacus has been the most effective Grizzlies pitcher this season. Yet, he remains in the minors. Veteran relievers George Kontos and Michael Blazek are also on the Grizzlies' roster.

Washington releasing Trevor Rosenthal on Sunday morning opened a 40-man roster spot. The Nationals sent Erick Fedde to Triple-A Fresno after the game Sunday to open a 25-man roster spot. Rodney fills those slots. Austin Voth remains in the rotation.

The Washington Post first reported Rodney's movement.

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Adley Rutschman finally signed his contract with the Orioles and it could be a record-setter

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Adley Rutschman finally signed his contract with the Orioles and it could be a record-setter

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Baltimore Orioles have signed the top overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft, catcher Adley Rutschman of Oregon State.

The 21-year-old Rutschman, a switch-hitter, batted .411 with 17 home runs as a junior for the Beavers this year. He won the Golden Spikes Award, which recognizes the top amateur baseball player in the United States.

His reported record-breaking $8.1 million signing bonus would top a previous high set by Gerrit Cole ($8 million) when the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him No. 1 in 2011. 

Baltimore had not had the first draft pick since 1989, when it selected pitcher Ben McDonald out of LSU.

The Orioles announced the signing on Monday. The deadline to sign draft picks is July 12.

The team plans to introduce him to the crowd at Camden Yards on Tuesday during a game against the San Diego Padres.

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