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Angels quietly restocking after pitching losses

Angels quietly restocking after pitching losses

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) With three-fifths of their starting rotation gone, the Los Angeles Angels have been busy plugging holes and upgrading a bullpen that routinely surrendered leads last season.

They introduced new pitchers Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson on Wednesday, along with relievers Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson - both of whom are coming off surgery.

General manager Jerry Dipoto said the Angels' staff is deeper than it was last season, despite the losses of starters Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. Greinke moved up the freeway to join the rival Dodgers in a $147 million, six-year deal that left Dipoto defending Blanton, who has not been higher than the fifth starter in recent years. He signed for $15 million and two years.

``What Joe represents to us is stability and a winning player. We need it,'' Dipoto said. ``We'll let time tell how impactful he can be on this club. Joe fit our needs and did it in a way we wanted to create depth.''

Last year, the Angels created a splash by signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the offseason. This year, their aim was much more modest.

``Our goal was to create 1 through 12 pitching depth,'' Dipoto said. ``I don't feel like anything else is imminent and anything else is required.''

Blanton will earn $6.5 million next season and $7.5 million in 2014. The Angels hold a club option for $8 million in 2015 with a $1 million buyout. His contract includes performance bonuses of $100,000 for 180 innings, and $200,000 each for 190 and 200 innings. It also includes award bonuses for making the All-Star team ($50,000), winning the Cy Young Award ($150,000), winning a Gold Glove ($75,000), being MVP of the league championship series ($75,000) and being World Series MVP ($100,000).

The 32-year-old right-hander was 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA last season and a career-best 166 strikeouts in 31 games split between Philadelphia and the Dodgers. Blanton pitched in the postseason in five of the last seven years and was on Philadelphia's 2008 World Series championship team.

``All I care about is winning and hopefully going to a World Series,'' he said. ``I know what I can do. If there's four guys on staff better than me I'm not unhappy because that means we're good.''

The Angels acquired right-hander Hanson from Atlanta for reliever Jordan Walden. He and Blanton will fill the starting spots of Santana, who was traded to Kansas City, and Haren, who signed with Washington as a free agent. The Angels pursued Greinke, but he said Tuesday that the Dodgers and Texas were the teams in the hunt until the very end.

``Zack is a Dodger and we wish him well,'' Dipoto said. ``We're going to focus on our needs and put ourselves in the best position to win.''

Hanson and Blanton will join a rotation anchored by Jered Weaver and Wilson, who is recovering from surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow.

``Our rotation has an element of experience that is going to be important,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``These are two great guys (Weaver and Wilson) to work off of. These guys are all going to pitch to a certain point in the game. We'll hold leads much better than last season.''

The Angels upgraded their bullpen with the additions of free agents Madson and Burnett joining Ernesto Frieri, Kevin Jepsen and Scott Downs. Burnett signed for $8 million and two years, getting a $250,000 signing bonus.

The 30-year-old left-hander made 70 relief appearances for the NL East champion Washington Nationals last season, with a 1-2 record, two saves and a 2.38 ERA. He had 57 strikeouts.

Burnett will earn $3.5 million next season, $3.75 million in 2014 and the Angels hold a $4.5 million club option for 2015 with a $500,000 buyout. The option becomes guaranteed if Burnett has 110 games pitched in 2013-14 and he doesn't spent time on the disabled list in 2014 because of a left arm injury.

Burnett had bone spurs in his elbow that affected him late in the season. He underwent surgery after the playoffs.

``My elbow is fine,'' he said. ``I've thrown four or five times in the last few weeks. It feels better and looser. I'll be ready for spring training.''

Burnett's contract includes performance bonuses for 2013 and 2014 of $100,000 each for 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 games pitched, and $125,000 for 60 games pitched.

His contract includes award bonuses of $50,000 for making the All-Star team, $75,000 for a Gold Glove, $75,000 for being named league championship series MVP, $100,000 for World Series MVP honors, and $150,000 for earning the Rolaids Relief award.

Madson is coming back from elbow ligament-replacement surgery.

``I'm either on pace or a little ahead in rehab. I feel confident come April I'll be 100 percent,'' he said. ``I feel like I can throw hard but that ligament isn't ready. It needs to become pliable, so just patience with it.''

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AP Sports Writer Ron Blum in New York contributed to this report.

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Braves pitcher Mike Soroka out for season with torn right Achilles

Braves pitcher Mike Soroka out for season with torn right Achilles

Atlanta Braves ace Mike Soroka is out for the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon Monday night against the New York Mets.

Soroka was hurt in the third inning after delivering a pitch to J.D. Davis, who grounded the ball toward first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Soroka broke toward first to cover the bag, only to go down on his first step off the mound. The right-hander knew right away it was a devastating injury, one that ensures he won't be back on the mound until 2021.

"It's a freak thing that happened," manager Brian Snitker said, delivering the grim news after the Braves lost 7-2 to the Mets. "I'm sorry it did."

Soroka yelled in obvious pain and tried to walk gingerly for a couple of steps before dropping to his knees. He couldn't put any weight on the leg as he was helped toward the clubhouse with the assistance of Snitker and a trainer.

It was a major blow to the two-time defending NL East champion Braves, who had won five straight despite struggling to put together an effective rotation.

"Somebody else is going to get an opportunity," Snitker said. "Things like that happen. These guys will regroup. Somebody is going to get an opportunity to do something really good. Our young guys are going to continue to get better. We're going to be fine."

Soroka, who turns 23 on Tuesday, made his first opening day start last month after going 13-4 with a dazzling 2.68 ERA in 2019 to finish second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting and sixth for the Cy Young Award.

Soroka was making his third start of the season. He came in having allowed just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings but struggled against the Mets, giving up three hits and four walks. He was charged with four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his career.

Unfortunately for Soroka, he won't get a chance to make up for it this season.

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Phillies OF Andrew McCutchen rips Marlins for not following coronavirus protocols

Phillies OF Andrew McCutchen rips Marlins for not following coronavirus protocols

When Major League Baseball began its season two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Phillies were following all of the league's protocols to conduct as safe of a season possible in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Phillies were one of two teams that went this past week without playing any games. Philadelphia had six consecutive contests postponed after the Miami Marlins, the Phillies' opening weekend opponent, had a major COVID-19 outbreak within the organization. As a result, 18 Miami players tested positive for the virus. The Phils' traveling party was required to undergo additional testing as a result.

On Sunday, Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi admitted he was frustrated by the situation, but did not blame the Marlins for the outbreak. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen had a different stance on the matter.

"I was upset at everything that’s transpired through that — whoever decided to step out or not necessarily follow the health and safety protocol," McCutchen said on the latest edition of The Athletic’s Starkville podcast

"That upset me. What made me angry was that we, as the Phillies — we were the ones that ended up having to pay for that," McCutchen said. "We followed all of the health and safety protocols. We knew that was important. We understood that’s what we needed to do to be able to play this game. And we did everything right. And we paid for it."

RELATED: CARDINALS SEASON POSTPONED UNTIL FRIDAY AFTER MULTIPLE POSITIVE TESTS

The Marlins had multiple players test positive before the opening weekend Sunday finale occurred, according to multiple reports, yet they still decided to play. Plus, some members of the Marlins organization reportedly went out in Atlanta prior to the outbreak.

For McCutchen, who missed most of the 2019 season after suffering a torn ACL, not being able to play while the rest of the league was what impacted him the most. 

“And so for me, that was upsetting. I’m sitting here at home, watching 28 to 27 to 26 other teams play, and we’re sitting at home — all (testing) negative by the way," McCutchen said. "And we have to watch this happen while we did nothing wrong. So for me, that was very upsetting. It was very upsetting that we did everything right, and we were still the ones paying for it."

Unfortunately for McCutchen and the Phillies, the team's return to action will last just one game. Philadelphia's scheduled Tuesday matchup with the Yankees has already been postponed due to incoming tropical storm Isaias.

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