MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL NEWS SCIOSCIA, ROSS, YANKEES, PIRATES & MUCH MORE

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Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia denied rumors that he is stepping down at the end of the season, calling the report “poppycock.” On Saturday night, The Athletic reported that Scoiscia would end his 19-year tenure with the Angels.

According to the Orange County Register, Scioscia said “nothing’s changed since October” when talking about his status with the team on Sunday. The 59-year-old Scioscia is nearing the end of his contract, which pays him $5 million a season.

Scioscia, a two-time American League Manager of the Year winner, led Los Angeles to the 2002 World Series title and has also won six AL West titles. Scioscia has a record of 1625-1,403 in his tenure with the Angels.

The Angels have missed the postseason in each of the past three seasons and enter Sunday’s action with a 55-57 record, 11 games back of the second wild card spot in the AL. By Scooby Axson

Apr 8, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Tyson Ross (38) throws to first base for an out during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals claimed Padres’ right-hander Tyson Ross off waivers on Sunday. The former National League All-Star had a 4.45 ERA in 22 starts for San Diego this season.

What does this mean for the Cardinals?

St. Louis is in the midst of a playoff race, trailing the Atlanta Braves by four games for the second National League Wild Card spot. However, the Cardinals are one of six teams within 5.5 games of that second spot. Continue reading by  

The process through which position players appear on the mound is mostly the same. In the midst of a blowout, a manager or bench coach of the team getting crushed will approach a veteran player who is closer to the fringe of the roster than at its core. The player is asked if he can try to pitch an inning, to save the bullpen from some wear and tear.

Most accept the assignment with good humor, others with relish. When Pablo Sandoval pitched earlier this year, he looked like someone who had thrown some innings on the mound, showing off his athleticism with a turn of hips and a nice breaking ball. The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo had all but begged for the assignment, and had to assure manager Joe Maddon that he wouldn’t overthrow — and he kept his promise, retiring a batter with two pitches, one at 54 mph, the other at 63 mph. Jose Reyes was smiling at the outset of his mound appearance for the Mets last week. But in style and substance Reyes threw more like a batting-practice pitcher than an actual pitcher; after six runs and a 25-4 loss, his smile was mostly gone. Continue reading by Buster Olney

After sending out veteran relievers Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley last week, the Washington Nationals are in discussions to sign recently released veteran Greg Holland, according to people familiar with the situation. Holland had signed a $14 million deal to close for the St. Louis Cardinals, who released him this week after he pitched to a 7.92 ERA in 25 appearances and could not stay healthy. Holland cleared waivers, so the Nationals are free to negotiate a new deal with him, and do not have to pick up the rest of his massive 2018 salary. No deal is complete as of Sunday afternoon.

The Nationals had interest in Holland before. The former Royals closer has World Series experience, and would likely serve as late-inning depth if he could recover his form. The Nationals have time to let him find his way, as even with closer Sean Doolittle on the disabled list, they have Ryan Madson and Kelvin Herrera to pitch the eighth and ninth. Holland could handle lower leverage innings until he proves himself capable of handling later ones like he did for the Royals during their playoff run, when Herrera served as one of his setup men. Tim Collins was also a part of that bullpen. Continue reading by Chelsea Janes

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Everything was right but for the shoes. Every time CC Sabathia looked down, he could see how wrong they were. Standing on the mound at Miller Park on July 8, 2008, his navy blue Brewers top and white pants were all correct. But on his feet, his Nike cleats were still bright red—leftovers of Cleveland, his home before the trade that, in just three short months, changed his career and the Brewers’ fortunes.

“We tried to paint them and everything, but the paint kept coming off,” Sabathia recalls now. “I kept looking down at my shoes and thinking, ‘I’ve got to get some new cleats.'”

That was just about the only thing that went wrong for Sabathia that late summer and fall. Shipped from the Indians to the Brewers before the All-Star break, the defending AL Cy Young ripped off a second half that few matched before or since. Over 17 starts for his new club, he went 11–2 with a 1.65 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 130 2/3 innings, earning top-six finishes in both the NL Cy Young and MVP voting. Continue reading by JON TAYLER

Houston Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday, a day after he left his start against the Los Angeles Dodgers with elbow discomfort.

The Astros reinstated embattled reliever Roberto Osuna from the restricted list in a corresponding move. The right-hander had been serving a 75-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

On Saturday night, McCullers took his at-bat in the top of the fifth, came back out for the bottom half, fired some warm-up pitches, then looked into the dugout and was removed from the game.

McCullers said Saturday night he is “hopeful” that the ailment is not serious.

“I’m hopeful because that’s who I am,” McCullers said after the Astros routed the Dodgers 14-0. “I feel like it’s gotta be OK. I don’t know. I’m hopeful that it’s going to be good news. But I’ll deal with it. Whatever’s done is done. I’m looking forward to an opportunity to help the team again, whenever the time comes again.”

The Astros were the only team in the majors that had required only five starting pitchers this season. Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Sunday he will take advantage of some upcoming days off and go with a four-man rotation through the middle of August.

McCullers returned to Houston on Sunday morning to get a more detailed examination from team doctors. McCullers, 24, is 10-6 this season with a 3.93 ERA in 126 innings pitched. By Alden Gonzalez

New Twins righthander Oliver Drake says it’s not easy changing teams four times in a season, but it’s worth it to stay in the major leagues.

He didn’t care about the history he was making, or the lead he was protecting, or the look of yet another new home ballpark. When the bullpen door opened and he jogged to the mound on Saturday, Oliver Drake was just glad he wasn’t grounded anymore.

“The hardest part [of his bizarre 2018 season] has been the days in between [teams],” Drake said after pitching the ninth inning of the Twins’ 8-2 victory over Kansas City, making him the first player ever to play for five MLB teams in one season. “It feels like when you’re grounded and you’re watching all your friends play outside, and you’re not allowed. Like you’re in timeout.” Continue reading by 

Neal Huntington GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team never gave any thought to dealing two of its top controllable assets, right-hander Jameson Taillon or closer Felipe Vazquez“When club hit rock bottom at seven (games) under (.500 on July 7),” Huntington said, “(we began to consider), ‘Maybe ‘18 isn’t our year. How do we strengthen ’19, ’20, and ‘21 moving on?’ (But) it was never a consideration to trade Felipe Vazquez, and trading Jameson Taillon was never a consideration for us.” The Pirates actually fell to eight games under .500 on July 7, but they then ripped off 15 wins in 19 games before July 31 and ended up as buyers, acquiring right-hander Chris Archer from the Rays and reliever Keone Kela from the Rangers.

The Milwaukee Brewers have claimed right-hander Jordan Lyles off waivers from the Padres. Lyles, 27-year-old is a first-round pick of the Astros in 2008, has generally struggled since debuting in the majors in 2011. However, Lyles was decent this year as a member of the Padres, with whom he logged a 4.29 ERA/4.45 FIP with 7.82 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 46.7 percent groundball rate in 71 1/3 innings. He worked primarily out of San Diego’s bullpen before it said goodbye to him, totaling eight starts in 24 appearances.

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The National Sports Collectors Convention arguably has never had a more exciting moment in its 39 years than what happened Friday in Cleveland.

Vintage Breaks, a company that offers collectors a chance to buy spots in unopened packs of vintage cards, charged $500 for spots in a 1955 Bowman pack.

On a stage, wired up to the crowd, owner Leighton Sheldon screamed when he saw the second-to-last card in the pack.

“My eyes bulged out of my head,” Sheldon said.

What Sheldon saw was the most valuable card in the set: a Mickey Mantle, which appeared to be in pristine condition.

Some 375 miles east of Cleveland, Chris Rothe was finishing up his job as a third-generation bookbinder in Maryland when he decided to check the archived videos of the pack openings from earlier in the day. Rothe, who randomly got the 19th card that was to be opened in the pack, discovered that he was the proud new owner of the Mantle card.

“My friend told me my face went pale white when I saw it,” Rothe said. “I was weak in the knees.”

Rothe said he knew immediately that he would sell the card.

“I have the card in a 3 [on a 10 scale],” he said. “That’s good enough. I’ll use the money to get a [Roberto] Clemente rookie and maybe get a lower-graded Mantle rookie.”

But the price Rothe expected to get for the card has risen significantly.

On Saturday morning, Sheldon returned to the convention and took the card to be graded by PSA, considered the industry’s authority on the condition of cards. Three hours later, PSA returned with a grade of 9 out of 10 (a PSA 10 card is deemed to be in virtually perfect condition and gives the card its highest possible value).

It marked only the eighth time that PSA gave a 1955 Mantle Bowman card a 9 grade. Sheldon said he was told by PSA officials that it was the first time in more than two decades that they had graded that card a 9.

The last PSA 9 for the 1955 Mantle Bowman sold for $35,089. All day, Sheldon was working the show and the phones. By 7 p.m. ET Saturday, Sheldon had an offer for $50,000 for the card.

Rothe won’t be the only one who will come away a big winner from a future sale. So, too, will Sheldon. His Vintage Breaks company, which has existed for a year, has never had such a high-profile pull. His greatest success to date was when a Michael Jordan rookie card was pulled from a pack of 1986 Fleer basketball. A collector paid $2,000 for the right to the unknown card before the pack was opened. Given its condition, the Jordan rookie was worth about $5,000. By DARREN ROVELL 

 

 

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