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  • MLB notebook: Hall of Fame adds Jeter, Walker
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday in balloting conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

    • Jeter received votes on 396 of the 397 ballots, falling one vote short of matching former New York Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera's unanimous selection in 2019. Jeter, a shortstop, was named on 99.7 percent of the ballots.

      Walker, an outfielder, received 76.6 percent and was elected by six votes over the minimum. The requirement for induction is 75 percent.

      Pitcher Curt Schilling missed election by getting 70 percent of the vote, finishing 20 votes short of election. Pitcher Roger Clemens received 61 percent and outfielder Barry Bonds got 60.7 percent.

      --Free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, the team announced.

      The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Braves will make the two-time All-Star their everyday left fielder. Atlanta had eight players start in left field last season, topped by Austin Riley (58 games) and including regular center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (40 games) and regular right fielder Nick Markakis (nine games).

      Ozuna, 29, spent the past two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals after opening his major league career by playing five seasons for the Miami Marlins. Last year, he hit a career-low .241 with a .328 on-base percentage, a .472 slugging percentage, 29 homers and 89 RBIs in 130 games.

      --The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a resolution that asks commissioner Rob Manfred to strip the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox of their recent World Series titles and instead crown the Dodgers as the champions of the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

      The Dodgers lost the 2017 World Series to the Astros, four games to three, and the 2018 series to the Red Sox, four games to one.

      The resolution cited the MLB investigation that showed the Astros used technology to steal signs in 2017 that led to the suspensions -- and subsequent firings -- of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The Astros' bench coach in 2017, Alex Cora, was linked to the scheme in a nine-page report released last week by MLB. Cora was hired to manage the Red Sox and led them to a championship in 2018 before he and the team parted ways last week.

      --Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has taken another step back on his lengthy road to recovery from a knee injury.

      "Dustin has suffered a significant setback while rehabbing his left knee injury. As a result, his status for Spring Training is uncertain," Red Sox spokesman Kevin Gregg said.

      According to ESPN, Pedroia, 36, is discussing his options with his family, the Red Sox and his representation. He has played just nine games in the past two seasons, sustaining the initial injury in April 2017 against the Baltimore Orioles when Manny Machado slid into him at second base. He played with the injury the remainder of the season and had surgery in October of that year, then returned to play just six games in 2019.

      --Field Level Media

  • LF Ozuna signs with Braves for 1 year, $18M
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    Free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, the team announced Tuesday.

    • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Braves will make the two-time All-Star their everyday left fielder. Atlanta had eight players start in left field last season, topped by Austin Riley (58 games) and including regular center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (40 games) and regular right fielder Nick Markakis (nine games).

      Ozuna, 29, spent the past two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals after opening his major league career by playing five seasons for the Miami Marlins.

      Last year, he hit a career-low .241 with a .328 on-base percentage, a .472 slugging percentage, 29 homers and 89 RBIs in 130 games. His best season was 2017, his final year in Miami, when he batted .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs while earning Silver Slugger and Gold Glove honors.

      In 931 career games, Ozuna has a career batting line of .272/.329/.455 with 148 homers and 538 RBIs.

      Ozuna made $12.25 million last season after avoiding arbitration with the Cardinals.

      In addition to Ozuna, Acuna and Markakis, the Braves also have Ender Inciarte, a three-time Gold Glove-award-winning center fielder who missed the final six weeks of the 2019 season due to a hamstring injury.

      --Field Level Media

  • Jeter, Walker elected to Hall of Fame
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday in balloting conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

    • Jeter received votes on 396 of the 397 ballots, falling one vote short of joining former New York Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera as a unanimous selection in balloting revealed on MLB Network.

      Jeter, a shortstop, was named on 99.7 percent of the ballots.

      Walker, an outfielder, received 76.6 percent and was elected by six votes over the minimum. The requirement for induction is 75 percent.

      Pitcher Curt Schilling missed election by getting 70 percent of the vote, finishing 20 votes short of election. Pitcher Roger Clemens received 61 percent and outfielder Barry Bonds got 60.7 percent.

      Jeter's 3,465 career hits rank sixth in baseball history. He had a .310 career average and had 260 homers, 1,923 runs, 1,311 RBIs, 544 doubles, 66 triples and 358 steals.

      Walker batted .313 with 383 homers and 1,311 RBIs in 17 seasons with the Montreal Expos (1989-94), Colorado Rockies (1995-2004) and St. Louis Cardinals (2004-05). He won three National League batting titles in a four-season span with the Rockies from 1998-2001.

      Jeter and Walker will be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 26.

      Also to be inducted are former MLB Players Association executive director Marvin Miller and eight-time All-Star catcher Ted Simmons. Those two were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Modern Baseball Era committee last month.

      There wasn't much suspense per whether Jeter would earn induction in his first year of eligibility. However, he said he was nervous when it was time for the call to come from BBWAA secretary/treasurer Jack O'Connell.

      "When you start off your career, you're never thinking about the Hall of Fame," Jeter told MLB Network. "I mean, this is the highest honor that can be given to any individual that plays this game. I was speechless."

      Jeter, the long-time captain of the Yankees, was a 14-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner in a career that ran from 1995-2014. The 1996 American League Rookie of the Year played on five World Series-winning title teams and was named World Series MVP in 2000 when the Yankees beat the crosstown New York Mets in five games.

      Jeter's flair for the dramatic was still evident in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25, 2014, when he sent a walk-off, opposite-field single to right field to give the Yankees a 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

      Jeter also reflected back to when he began playing minor league baseball in the Yankees' organization in 1992. It didn't go well, and he batted a collective .210 in 58 games at two stops. The next season, he made 56 errors in 126 games.

      "I was homesick, I was completely overmatched," Jeter said. "There were a lot of phone calls back home every night thinking that I made a mistake signing professionally, but just having that support and people I could lean on (helped). ...

      "I was blessed to play a long career and play on some great teams and have a lot of support."

      Jeter is currently the chief executive officer of the Miami Marlins.

      Earlier Tuesday, Walker sent out a tweet expressing he didn't think he was going to get elected.

      "I didn't think it was happening and I truly meant that," Walker said on MLB Network. "I had the numbers in my head, and I was prepared for no call, and then the opposite happens, and that call comes and suddenly you can't breathe."

      Walker is the second Canadian player named to the Hall of Famer. Pitcher Ferguson Jenkins was the first in 1991.

      "Being Canadian, you are born into this world with a stick in your hand and skates on your feet," Walker said. "That's how it was as a kid. You played hockey. ... I literally had to learn everything in the minor leagues. I didn't have high school baseball."

      Walker was a quick learner and developed into a five-time All-Star. Walker won NL MVP honors with Colorado in 1997, when he batted .366 with a career-high 49 homers to go with 130 RBIs and a career-best 33 steals.

      Some people feel Walker's stats are inflated due to playing so long in hitter-friendly Coors Field. He had a .381 batting average in 2,136 at-bats at the Mile High-ballpark.

      Walker said he has heard all the theories, good and bad. And he is OK with the debate but knows it has been put aside for good as of Tuesday.

      "I get the arguments, I've heard them all," Walker said. "Like I say, 76.6 percent of the voters didn't think that way, so I'm as grateful as can be."

      Schilling will be on the ballot for up to two more years and figures to have a strong chance to get in next season.

      There are observers who say Schilling has hurt his candidacy with controversial comments over the past few years, often made from his Twitter account, but his credentials sparkle.

      Schilling was a six-time All-Star who went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA, 3,116 strikeouts, 83 complete games and 20 shutouts in 20 seasons from 1988-2007 with the Baltimore Orioles (1988-90), Houston Astros (1991), Philadelphia Phillies (1992-2000), Arizona Diamondbacks (2000-03) and Boston Red Sox (2004-07). He walked just 711 batters in 3,261 innings.

      He was twice runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award (2001-02) and also finished second for the AL Cy Young Award in 2004. Schilling won more than 20 games in each of those three seasons, including a career-best 23 for the Diamondbacks in 2002.

      Schilling was a big-game pitcher in the postseason, going 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and two shutouts in 19 starts. He was World Series co-MVP with Randy Johnson in 2001 when Arizona defeated the Yankees in seven games.

      The candidacies of both Clemens and Bonds have been controversial due to suspicions they used illegal performance-enhancing drugs during their careers.

      Bonds is the sport's all-time leader with 762 homers and won a record seven NL MVP awards over his 22 seasons (1986-2007). He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-92) and San Francisco Giants (1993-2007).

      Clemens owns a record seven-time Cy Young Awards and went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA, 4,672 strikeouts and 46 shutouts during 24 seasons from 1984-2007. He pitched for the Red Sox (1984-96), Toronto Blue Jays (1997-1998), Yankees (1999-2003, 2007) and Astros (2004-06).

      Shortstop Omar Vizquel received 52.6 percent of the votes on this third year on the ballot. The defensive mastermind won 11 Gold Glove Awards and had 2,877 career hits over 24 big league seasons, 11 of them with the Cleveland Indians.

      Miller was chief of the players association from 1966-82 during a stretch in which there were two strikes (1972 and 1981). He helped usher in the free agency era as baseball's long-standing reserve clause that bound players to one team was struck down and salaries began to soar. He died in November 2012 at age 95.

      Simmons, a switch hitter who played in parts of 21 seasons starting in 1968, finished with a batting average of .285 with 2,472 hits, 483 doubles, 248 homers and 1,389 RBIs. He spent 13 seasons with the Cardinals, five with the Milwaukee Brewers and three with the Atlanta Braves.

      --Field Level Media

  • L.A. council asks MLB to name Dodgers the 2017, '18 champs
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday that asks commissioner Rob Manfred to strip the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox of their recent World Series titles and instead crown the Dodgers as the champions of the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

    • The Dodgers lost the 2017 World Series to the Astros, four games to three, and the 2018 series to the Red Sox, four games to one.

      The resolution cited the MLB investigation that showed the Astros used technology to steal signs in 2017 that led to the suspensions -- and subsequent firings -- of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. The team also was fined $5 million and lost future draft picks.

      The Astros' bench coach in 2017, Alex Cora, was linked to the scheme in a nine-page report released last week by MLB. He was hired to manage the Red Sox and led them to a world championship in 2018, before he and the team parted ways last week. An investigation into allegations the Red Sox cheated in 2018 is continuing.

      "This isn't being done for publicity," said Councilman Paul Koretz, co-sponsor of the resolution, per the Los Angeles Times. "This is being done in outrage for how our team was cheated."

      He continued: "We have to send a message. If we don't stand up for baseball, then the tradition of the national pastime may become flawed."

      Co-sponsor Gil Cedillo said even if the World Series trophies don't move to Dodger Stadium, both the Astros and Red Sox should be stripped of their championships.

      "This crisis goes beyond the sport and the game," Cedillo said, according to the Times. "It goes to the very core of being American. This could send an important message to little boys and girls that you need to play hard by the rules, or you can learn that cheating is the new normal.

      "We want it to be clear that this city spoke up for its team."

      --Field Level Media

  • Red Sox 2B Pedroia suffers setback with ailing knee
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has taken another step back on his lengthy road to recovery from a knee injury.

    • "Dustin has suffered a significant setback while rehabbing his left knee injury. As a result, his status for Spring Training is uncertain," Red Sox spokesman Kevin Gregg said on Tuesday.

      Per ESPN, Pedroia is discussing his options with his family, the Red Sox and his representation.

      Pedroia, 36, has played just nine games in the past two seasons. He sustained the initial injury in April 2017 against the Baltimore Orioles when Manny Machado slid into him at second base. He played with the injury the remainder of the season and had surgery in October of that year.

      A four-time All-Star and 2008 American League MVP, Pedroia last played for Boston on April 17 against the New York Yankees. He said he felt a pop in his knee during that game.

      Pedroia underwent a joint preservation procedure in August but recently began to feel discomfort from a significant amount of inflammation.

      Pedroia, who is a two-time World Series champion, is a .299 career hitter with 394 doubles, 140 home runs and 725 RBIs.

      --Field Level Media

  • Arenado feeling 'disrespected' by Rockies
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 20, 2020

    Colorado Rockies All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado bristled at the team's front office Monday, saying publicly that he feels "disrespected" by the organization.

    • "There's a lot of disrespect from people there that I don't want to be a part of," Arenado said in a text to MLB.com, according to the website.

      Further, Arenado told the Denver Post, "I don't care what's being said. I just know that I feel disrespected over there."

      The comments were Arenado's first since it came out that the Rockies were listening to offers for him. Earlier Monday, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich tried to quell trade rumors surrounding the five-time All-Star.

      "We have listened to teams regarding Nolan and really nothing has come of it," Bridich told the Post. "We are going to move forward pretty much as we expected -- with Nolan in the purple and black and as our third baseman. So we can put this to bed and collectively look forward to the upcoming season and work toward that."

      Arenado wouldn't elaborate to either the Post or MLB.com about specifics of why he feels slighted.

      Arenado, 28, is entering the second of an eight-year, $260 million deal that includes a full no-trade clause.

      The Rockies finished last season 71-91 despite another monster year from Arenado, who hit .315 with 41 home runs and 118 RBIs. Over the past five seasons, Arenado has batted .300 with averages of 39.8 homers and 124.2 RBIs.

      Arenado has won a Gold Glove in each of his first seven major league seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • 'King Felix' agrees to minor league deal with Braves
    By Field Level Media / Monday, January 20, 2020

    Former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez has agreed to a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves, multiple outlets reported Monday.

    • Hernandez would receive a one-year, $1 million deal if added to Atlanta's 40-man roster, according to mlb.com. He will receive an invitation to training camp and compete for the fifth spot in the Braves' rotation.

      Hernandez, who turns 34 in April, spent the past 15 seasons with the Seattle Mariners. His seven-year, $175 million contract expired after the 2019 season and Seattle wasn't interested in retaining him after he went 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts last season.

      Hernandez, a six-time All-Star, won the American League Cy Young in 2010. Known as "King Felix," he was one of the best hurlers in the majors from 2009-15 before enduring a major decline.

      The last two seasons were particularly bad. He went 8-14 with a 5.55 ERA in 29 appearances in 2018, briefly being demoted from the rotation for the lone relief appearance of his career before an injury to another Seattle pitcher moved him back into a starting role.

      Last season, Hernandez served up 17 homers in just 71 2/3 innings.

      Overall, Hernandez was 169-136 with a 3.42 ERA, 11 shutouts and 2,524 strikeouts in 419 appearances (418 starts) for Seattle. He pitched a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012.

      --Field Level Media

  • Piniella to return to Cubs as guest analyst
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, January 19, 2020

    Nearly 10 years after he walked away from his manager position with the Chicago Cubs, Lou Piniella will return as part of a team of analysts for the club's new Marquee Sports Network.

    • The news was met with cheers at the team's annual fan convention this weekend.

      Piniella stepped down as manager in August 2010 saying he needed to be present for his ailing 90-year-old mother. The team was 51-74 at the time and in fifth place. He managed the Cubs for four seasons, going 316-293 and taking them to the playoffs his first two years.

      The 76-year old is expected to join the new network for somewhere around 15-16 games. Also brought aboard as analysts were Mark DeRosa, Rick Sutcliffe, Ryan Dempster, Dan Plesac and Carlos Pena.

      "I always felt bad I had to leave before the season was over," Piniella told the Chicago Tribune. "I can get that off my mind now. It was important that I came home. I spent valuable time with my mom. You hate to end your career not finishing a season, but to me, it was something that had to be done. Family is always important. But I look forward to this, working with my buddies."

      Piniella spent 18 seasons as a player with the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees. He batted. 291 with 102 home runs and 766 RBIs.

      He also managed 23 seasons for the Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Cubs, compiling a 1,835-1,713 record. His teams made the postseason seven times, with the Reds winning the 1990 World Series.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Cardinals to bring back C Wieters
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, January 19, 2020

    Catcher Matt Wieters agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract to return to the St. Louis Cardinals, MLB Network reported Sunday.

    • The deal, which includes another $1 million in incentives, is progress after Wieters agreed to a minor-league deal last season and had to make the team out of spring training. The 33-year-old batted .214 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in 67 games last season.

      The switch-hitter will once again be a part of one of the more veteran catching staffs in the game, with Wieters expected to back up 37-year-old Yadier Molina.

      Wieters, a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, is a career .250 hitter over 11 seasons. He has 146 home runs with 546 RBIs for the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals and Cardinals.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Bregman denies wearing 'stupid' devices to steal signs
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, January 18, 2020

    In the wake of Major League Baseball's sign-stealing scandal that has cost three managers their jobs and the Houston Astros a hefty fine and bevy of draft picks, third baseman Alex Bregman denied that he or his teammates wore any devices to help them detect which pitches were coming.

    • Speaking at the team's FanFest on Saturday in his first public comments since MLB came down hard on the Astros in a ground-breaking punishment earlier this week, the two-time All-Star Bregman was understated and spoke in general terms in acknowledging the controversy -- although he emphatically denied wearing any buzzer as had been rumored on social media in recent days.

      "The commissioner came out with a report, MLB did their report and the Astros did what they did," Bregman said to reporters, also saying allegations of wearing a pitch-detecting buzzer were "stupid."

      "They made their decision on what they're going to do."

      What commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Monday has been the talk of the sport since.

      The league suspended manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one year, fined the Astros $5 million and took away the team's first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. Astros owner Jim Crane promptly fired Hinch and Luhnow the same day, with the stench and connection back to the original 2017 sign-stealing scheme also costing Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran their managerial jobs with Boston and the New York Mets, respectively.

      Cora was implicated as the ringleader of the scheme, which involved cameras being focused on the opposing catcher's pitch signs, while he was a bench coach in Houston. After the Astros won the World Series in 2017, Cora skippered the Red Sox to the 2018 Series title in his first season as manager there. Boston and Cora agreed to part ways on Tuesday, one day after Manfred's ruling.

      Beltran, who had just been hired to manage the Mets in November, was also named in the MLB ruling as the only specific player mentioned who helped carry out the system of cheating. He and the Mets mutually parted ways before he ever managed a game.

      As rumors picked up on social media about Astros players possibly wearing buzzers beneath their jerseys -- even during the 2019 season and playoffs, All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve released a statement through his agent, Scott Boras, that vehemently denied ever doing so.

      "Jose Altuve called me and said he wants it known that he has never, ever worn an electronic device in a major league game -- ever," Boras told Sports Illustrated. "He never received any form -- of a trigger or any information -- via an electronic product that was on his body or in his uniform. He has never worn any electronic device. Ever."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Astros to interview Baker on Monday
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, January 18, 2020

    The Houston Astros plan to interview veteran manager Dusty Baker on Monday, MLB.com reported on Saturday.

    • Baker, 70, last managed the Washington Nationals in 2017.

      The Astros are looking for a manager after firing A.J. Hinch earlier this week in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal.

      Houston has reportedly interviewed former big league managers John Gibbons and Buck Showalter and Chicago Cubs third-base coach Will Venable for the post.

      Baker compiled a 1,863-1,636-1 record in 22 seasons. He guided the San Francisco Giants to the National League pennant in 2002 before they lost to the Anaheim Angels in the World Series.

      Baker has produced 10 90-win campaigns during his tenures with the Giants, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Nationals.

      The Boston Red Sox and New York Mets are also looking for managers due to the scandal. Boston parted ways with Alex Cora and New York did the same with Carlos Beltran.

      --Field Level Media

  • Royals ex-owner Glass dies at 84
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 17, 2020

    Former Kansas City Royals owner David Glass died last week at the age of 84, the team confirmed Friday.

    • Glass, who bought the Royals for $96 million in April 2000, died on Jan. 9 from complications of pneumonia, according to his family.

      In a statement released on Twitter, new owner John Sherman, a local businessman who bought the team from the Glass family in November, said, "Like so many Kansas Citians, I am deeply saddened by the news of David's passing. His voice among other owners was so respected; he served on and led several Major League Baseball committees to better our game. His passion for baseball and love for Kansas City was the driving force in bringing success on the field for this franchise."

      Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in the statement: "Mr. Glass loved this game, this team, and our city with all his heart. He cared deeply for our fans and for the future of baseball. But above all, Mr. Glass placed an emphasis on putting family first which is what he stressed to our entire organization. We are forever grateful for his humble and supportive leadership, and we are beyond blessed that we were a part of his incredible life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his very special family."

      Under the ownership of Glass, who was the president and CEO of Wal-Mart from 1988-2000, the Royals reached the World Series in 2014 and 2015. After losing a seven-game series to the San Francisco Giants in 2014, they became world champions the following year by defeating the New York Mets in five games.

      Before becoming owner of the Royals, Glass served the previous 6 1/2 years as CEO and chairman of the team following the death of founding owner Ewing Kauffman, for whom the Royals' home stadium is still named.

      In November, Glass sold the Royals to Sherman, a former part-owner and chairman of the Cleveland Indians, and his group for close to $1 billion.

      "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I thank David Glass for his successful stewardship of the Royals' franchise dating back to 1993, including 20 years as owner," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement after the sale was approved. " The Glass family's passion for the Royals culminated in Kansas City's 2015 World Championship, demonstrating its strength as a baseball town."

      Glass was affiliated with a number of MLB organizations, including as a member of the MLB Executive Council and the National Baseball Hall of Fame Board of Directors in Cooperstown.

      Kansas City Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt also issued a statement Friday that read:

      "David was an incredibly kind man with a huge heart for Kansas City sports. He was a supportive partner and a gracious host who welcomed us to Kauffman Stadium many times over the years. I will always remember his poignant and thoughtful invitation to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day the season following my father's passing in 2006. Our family and the entire Kansas City Chiefs organization would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the Glass family and the Kansas City Royals."

      A memorial service will be held on Jan. 27 at Northwest Arkansas Fellowship Bible Church in Rogers, Ark., according to the Glass family.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ex-White Sox RHP McDowell: La Russa had sign-stealing system
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 17, 2020

    Former Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell added more nasty history to the sign-stealing scandal Friday by going back to the 1980s and implicating former Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who is now a member of the Hall of Fame.

    • McDowell, who debuted as a major league pitcher for the White Sox in 1987 but never played for La Russa, said the manager was responsible for installing a camera-aided sign-stealing system at old Comiskey Park.

      In a Friday interview with the Mac Attack on WFNZ-AM in Charlotte, N.C., McDowell said, "The Gatorade sign out in center had a light; there was a toggle switch in the manager's office and [a] camera zoomed in on the catcher.

      "I'm gonna whistle-blow this now because I'm getting tired of this crap. There was that -- Tony La Russa is the one who put it in. ... He's still in the game making half a million, you know? No one is going to go after that. It's just, this stuff is getting old where they target certain guys and let other people off the hook."

      La Russa was the White Sox manager from midway through the 1979 season until the end of the 1986 season.

      La Russa, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014, was not pleased with McDowell's comments.

      "My question is this: Was he ever on our team?" La Russa said via the San Jose Mercury News. "He was never on our team."

      When La Russa was informed McDowell didn't claim to have played for him, he said: "He can talk all he wants. He doesn't know how we played the game. He should talk to our teammates. That's what he should do."

      Last November, La Russa was hired by the Los Angeles Angels as senior adviser for baseball operations.

      "I've admired Tony for a very long time," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said at the time of La Russa's hiring. "As our paths have crossed over the years, Tony and I discussed the potential of working together and we're excited to finally get that opportunity. Adding his knowledge and experience will be an invaluable piece to the success and continued development of our baseball operations efforts both on and off the field."

      La Russa, 75, is the third winningest manager in baseball history with 2,728 victories, and won three World Series titles, one with the Oakland Athletics (1989) and two with the St. Louis Cardinals (2006, 2011). Since retiring as a manager in 2011, he has worked in front offices of the Arizona Diamondbacks (2014-17) and Boston Red Sox (2018-19).

      Managers A.J. Hinch of the Houston Astros, Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox and Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets have been fired since baseball commissioner Rob Manfred released what was discovered during the Astros' sign-stealing scandal in the 2017 season, when they went on to win the World Series.

      McDowell, the American League Cy Young Award winner in 1993 with the White Sox, added in the interview: "I've never said anything about the old system we had because once we got to new Comiskey [in 1991], I didn't know if there was one or not. There were rumors that we had one, but it wasn't as out there as the first one was where they forced the pitcher who was pitching the next day to go in there and flip on the toggle switch and stuff."

      McDowell, who turned 54 on Thursday, is currently a coach at Queens University in Charlotte. He went 127-87 with a 3.85 ERA over 12 major league seasons from 1987-99.

      The three-time All-Star won 20 games in 1992 for the White Sox and 22 in 1993. The right-hander also pitched for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Angels.

      --Field Level Media

  • Padres RHP Stammen signs two-year contract
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 17, 2020

    The San Diego Padres signed right-handed reliever Craig Stammen to a two-year contract, the team announced Friday.

    • The contract runs through the 2021 season and has a club option for the 2022 campaign.

      The Padres did not divulge financial terms of the deal, but The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal previously reported that the pact was for $9 million. He also reported that it included a $4 million club option for a third season in 2022, with a $1 million buyout, plus annual performance incentives.

      Stammen, 35, posted an 8-7 record with four saves and a 3.29 ERA in 76 appearances in 2019. He struck out 73 batters and walked just 15 in 82 innings.

      In three seasons in the San Diego bullpen, Stammen is 18-13 with a 3.06 ERA and 235 strikeouts in 241 1/3 innings (209 appearances).

      Stammen played his first seven seasons with the Washington Nationals (2009-15) and spent the 2016 campaign in the Cleveland Indians' minor league system.

      He owns a 44-37 career record with a 3.63 ERA and 605 strikeouts in 438 games (38 starts).

      --Field Level Media

  • Rockies to retire Walker's No. 33
    By Field Level Media / Friday, January 17, 2020

    The Colorado Rockies will retire Larry Walker's No. 33 in a ceremony on April 19.

    • His jersey will become the second to be retired by the club, joining Todd Helton's No. 17.

      "Larry Walker carried all five tools, and was the most instinctive player I have ever seen play the game," said Dick Monfort, the Rockies' owner and chairman in a team statement released Friday. "He put together 17 incredible years in the big leagues. Number 33 hanging in Coors Field will be a constant reminder of the vast talent of Larry Walker that we were all so lucky to witness here in Colorado."

      Walker, a five-time All-Star, was the National League MVP in 1997, when he hit a league-leading 49 home runs and added 130 RBIs. He also led the league in total bases (409) and had major league-best numbers in on-base (.452) and slugging (.720) percentages. He batted .366, second to San Diego's Tony Gwynn (.372).

      Now 53, Walker began his career with the Montreal Expos (1989-94) and was an All-Star in 1992. He moved on to Colorado (1995-2004) before finishing his career with the St. Louis Cardinals (2004-05).

      With the Rockies, Walker also won three batting titles -- 1998 (.363), 1999 (.379) and 2001 (.350) -- leading the majors in average all three seasons.

      In his Colorado career, the outfielder-first baseman played in 1,170 games, accumulating 258 home runs and 848 RBIs with a .334 batting average. He ended his career with 383 homers, 1,311 RBIs, a .313 batting average and seven Gold Gloves.

      "There is no bigger honor an organization can give a player than retiring his number," Walker said. "Today, Dick Monfort called to say that they are going to retire #33! I can't tell you how taken aback I am by this gesture. I am both thrilled and honored and I look forward to seeing my number hanging next to the greatest Rockie of all time, #17!"

      Walker ranks first in Rockies history in batting average, on-base percentage (.426) and slugging percentage (.618). He ranks second, behind Helton, in runs, hits, doubles, home runs and RBI.

      Last year, Walker received 54.6 percent of votes cast for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He is on the ballot this year for the 10th and final time.

      The Baseball Writers' Association of America will announce the Hall of Fame Class of 2020 on Tuesday night.

      --Field Level Media

  • Braves re-sign INF Hechavarria to one-year deal
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 16, 2020

    The Atlanta Braves on Thursday re-signed infielder and defensive specialist Adeiny Hechavarria to a one-year, $1 million deal.

    • Hechavarria split time between the Braves and New York Mets last season but the Braves got the better of the 30-year-old. Hechavarria hit .328 with four home runs in 24 games with the Braves compared to .204 in 60 games with the Mets. The Braves picked up Hechavarria two days after he was released by the Mets in August.

      Hechavarria brings versatility to an infield that lost third baseman Josh Donaldson in free agency.

      Hechavarria is a career .253 hitter with 37 home runs. He has played for seven different teams in his eight-year career.

      --Field Level Media

  • MLB notebook: Mets, manager Beltran agree to part ways
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 16, 2020

    The New York Mets and Carlos Beltran mutually parted ways on Thursday, three days after the club's new manager was implicated in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing incident from 2017.

    • The Mets released separate statements from the club and Beltran indicating the parting was agreed to Thursday morning. The team statement was from chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and executive vice president Brodie Van Wagenen.

      "We met with Carlos last night and again this morning and agreed to mutually part ways," the statement began. "This was not an easy decision. Considering the circumstances, it became clear to all parties that it was not in anyone's best interests for Carlos to move forward as manager of the New York Mets. We believe that Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. We are confident that this will not be the final chapter in his baseball career. We remain excited about the talent on this team and are committed to reaching our goals of winning now and in the future."

      Beltran was a player during the 2017 incident. Now retired, he was hired by the Mets in November.

      --The San Francisco Giants made history when Alyssa Nakken was hired as a coach to become the first woman on a major league coaching staff.

      Nakken, 29, was a college softball player at Sacramento State from 2009-12. She joined the Giants in 2014 as an intern in the baseball operations department and is currently responsible for directing many of the organization's health and wellness initiatives.

      San Francisco also added Mark Hallberg to the staff. Hallberg, 34, served as manager of short-season Class A Salem-Keizer last season.

      --With the 2020 season fast approaching, the Houston Astros have interviewed Buck Showalter for their vacant managerial position, multiple outlets reported. According to Houston's Fox26, the team also had a meeting scheduled with another veteran manager: John Gibbons.

      The Astros need to replace former manager A.J. Hinch, who was fired this week shortly after he was suspended by Major League Baseball for one season following an investigation into electronic sign stealing during the 2017 campaign. General manager Jeff Luhnow also was suspended and then fired.

      Showalter, 63, has managed four teams, starting with the New York Yankees from 1992-1995. He also has been on the bench with the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000), Texas Rangers (2003-2006) and Baltimore Orioles (2010-2018). Gibbons, 57, managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 2004-08 and 2013-18.

      --The Astros announced that they agreed with outfielder George Springer to a one-year deal that avoids arbitration.

      Springer, 30, will make $21 million in 2020, his last as an arbitration-eligible player before moving to his first year of free agency in 2021. He has been an All-Star in each of the past three seasons.

      Springer batted a career-high .292 in 2019 while also setting personal bests with 39 home runs and 96 RBIs. He added four more home runs and eight RBIs in 18 postseason games as the Astros advanced to Game 7 of the World Series before falling to the Washington Nationals.

      --The Giants landed some pitching help as they agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent left-hander Drew Smyly.

      To make room on the 40-man roster, the Giants designated right-hander Trevor Oaks for assignment.

      Smyly, 30, made 25 appearances (21 starts) while splitting time with the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies last season. It was his comeback season after missing 2017 and 2018 following Tommy John surgery.

      --Field Level Media

  • Giants' Nakken becomes first woman on MLB coaching staff
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 16, 2020

    The San Francisco Giants made history on Thursday when Alyssa Nakken was hired as a coach to become the first woman on a major league coaching staff.

    • Nakken, 29, was a college softball player at Sacramento State from 2009-12. She joined the Giants in 2014 as an intern in the baseball operations department and is currently responsible for directing many of the organization's health and wellness initiatives.

      San Francisco also added Mark Hallberg to the staff. Hallberg, 34, served as manager of short-season Class A Salem-Keizer last season.

      "Alyssa and Mark are highly respected members of the organization and I'm delighted that they will now focus their talents on helping to build a winning culture in the clubhouse," Giants manager Gabe Kapler said in a press release. "In every organization, environment affects performance, and baseball clubhouses are no different.

      "That's why in addition to assisting the rest of the coaching staff on the field, Mark and Alyssa will focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team."

      The Sacramento Bee reported that Nakken was not available for an interview and prefers to wait until she settles into her job before consenting to one.

      Kapler told the Bee that Nakken will work with players on their base running and throw batting practice in addition to working on team unity aspects.

      "(Nakken) is the best choice for this job, period," Kapler told the Bee. "She has experience as an elite athlete. She's been with the Giants organization. She was successful leading initiatives with the Giants. She was a perfect fit."

      Nakken batted .304 with 19 homers and started 184 games during her softball career. She was a three-time all-conference selection.

      Hallberg played parts of five minor league seasons from 2007-11 in the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization and batted .277 with 18 homers and 220 RBIs in 509 games.

      --Field Level Media

  • Giants add LHP Smyly on one-year deal
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 16, 2020

    The San Francisco Giants landed some pitching help Thursday as they agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent left-hander Drew Smyly.

    • To make room on the 40-man roster, the Giants designated right-hander Trevor Oaks for assignment.

      Smyly, 30, made 25 appearances (21 starts) while splitting time with the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies last season. It was his comeback season after missing 2017 and 2018 following Tommy John surgery.

      He was 4-7 overall with a 6.24 ERA in 2019. Over six major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays, Rangers and Phillies, he is 35-34 with a 4.16 ERA over 181 appearances (106 starts).

      In addition to Smyly, the Giants also signed right-handed starter Kevin Gausman to a one-year deal this offseason.

      --Field Level Media

  • Beltran out as Mets' manager in wake of scandal
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 16, 2020

    The New York Mets and Carlos Beltran mutually parted ways on Thursday, three days after the club's new manager was implicated in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing incident from 2017.

    • The Mets released separate statements from the club and Beltran indicating the parting was agreed to Thursday morning.

      The team statement was from chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and executive vice president Brodie Van Wagenen.

      "We met with Carlos last night and again this morning and agreed to mutually part ways," the statement began. "This was not an easy decision. Considering the circumstances, it became clear to all parties that it was not in anyone's best interests for Carlos to move forward as manager of the New York Mets.

      "We believe that Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. We are confident that this will not be the final chapter in his baseball career. We remain excited about the talent on this team and are committed to reaching our goals of winning now and in the future."

      Beltran was a player during the 2017 incident. Now retired, he was hired by the Mets in November.

      "I'm grateful to them for giving me the opportunity, but we agreed this decision is in the best interest of the team," Beltran said in his statement. "I couldn't let myself be a distraction for the team. I wish the entire organization success in the future."

      Beltran is the third manager to lose his job due to the scandal. Houston fired A.J. Hinch and the Boston Red Sox and Alex Cora agreed to part ways. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow also was dismissed.

      Cora was identified by MLB on Monday as a ringleader in the Astros' scheme to steal signs en route to their 2017 World Series championship, when he was Houston's bench coach. He became the Red Sox's manager the next year and led his new team to the title -- albeit with lingering suspicions regarding similar illegal sign-stealing.

      Beltran was the lone player named in the report. The scheme involved using video cameras and trash cans to tip hitters off to pitches.

      "Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including Carlos Beltrán, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams' signs and communicating the signs to the batter," the MLB report said.

      Beltran, 42, was a nine-time All-Star who batted .279 with 435 homers and 1,587 RBIs with seven teams.

      He later released an additional statement to ESPN.

      "Over my 20 years in the game, I've always taken pride in being a leader and doing things the right way, and in this situation, I failed," Beltran said. "As a veteran player on the team I should've recognized the severity of the issue and truly regret the actions that were taken.

      "I am a man of faith and integrity and what took place did not demonstrate those characteristics that are so very important to me and my family. ... I'm very sorry. It's not who I am as a father, a husband, a teammate and as an educator.

      "I hope at some point in time, I'll have the opportunity to return to this game that I love so much."

      Houston's sign-stealing tendencies officially came into the spotlight when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers made comments to reporters this offseason, referencing that it was occurring when he was on the club's 2017 World Series championship team. Fiers now pitches for the Oakland Athletics.

      Mets advisor Jessica Mendoza, who also is a broadcaster for ESPN, sharply criticized Fiers on Thursday, possibly violating MLB's call that no club employees comment on the situation.

      "If you're with the Oakland A's and you're on another team, I mean heck yeah, you better be telling your teammates, "Look, hey, heads up. If you hear some noises when you're pitching, this is what's going on,'" Mendoza said on ESPN Radio. "For sure. But to go public, yeah. It didn't sit well with me. And honestly, it made me sad for the sport that that's how this all got found out.

      "This wasn't something that MLB naturally investigated or that even other teams complained about because they naturally heard about, and then investigations happen. But it came from within. It was a player that was a part of it, that benefited from it during the regular season when he was a part of that team. When I first heard about it, it hits you like any teammate would. It's something that you don't do. I totally get telling your future teammates, helping them win, letting people know. But to go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it's hard to swallow."

      Mendoza later posted a statement on Twitter to clarify her criticism of Fiers.

      "The point I should have been much more clear on was this: I believe it's very critical that this news was made public; I simply disagree with the manner in which that was done," Mendoza said. "I credit Mike Fiers for stepping forward, yet I feel that going directly through your team and/or MLB first could have been a better way to surface the information."

      Mendoza said her role with the Mets doesn't affect her opinion on the subject.

      --Field Level Media

  • Astros, Springer avoid arbitration, agree at $21M
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 16, 2020

    Without a general manager or a field manager, the Houston Astros are still getting business done, announcing that they agreed with outfielder George Springer on Thursday to a one-year deal that avoids arbitration.

    • Springer, 30, will make $21 million in 2020, his last as an arbitration-eligible player before moving to his first year of free agency in 2021. He has been an All-Star in each of the past three seasons.

      Springer batted a career-high .292 in 2019 while also setting personal bests with 39 home runs and 96 RBIs. He added four more home runs and eight RBIs in 18 postseason games as the Astros advanced to Game 7 of the World Series before falling to the Washington Nationals.

      The Astros have been embroiled in an electronic sign-stealing controversy from the 2017 season that cost general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch their jobs.

      Springer made his first All-Star team in the 2017 season when he hit 34 home runs with 85 RBIs. He then went on to dominate in the postseason that year, earning World Series MVP honors when he hit five home runs with seven RBIs while batting .379 in seven games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Astros considering Showalter, Gibbons
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, January 16, 2020

    With the 2020 season fast approaching, the Houston Astros have interviewed Buck Showalter for their vacant managerial position, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

    • The Athletic reported that Showalter had a sit-down meeting with Astros executives Wednesday. According to Houston's Fox26, the team also has a meeting scheduled Thursday with another veteran manager: John Gibbons.

      The Astros need to replace former manager A.J. Hinch, who was fired this week shortly after he was suspended by Major League Baseball for one season following an investigation into electronic sign stealing during the 2017 campaign. General manager Jeff Luhnow also was suspended and then fired.

      Showalter, 63, has managed four teams, starting with the New York Yankees from 1992-1995. He also has been on the bench with the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000), Texas Rangers (2003-2006) and Baltimore Orioles (2010-2018).

      In his 20 seasons, he has compiled a 1,551-1,517 record, while also going 9-14 in four postseason appearances.

      Gibbons, 57, managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 2004-08 and 2013-18. He posted a 793-789 record with two postseason appearances, advancing to the American League Championship Series in 2015 and 2016.

      --Field Level Media

  • Executive Kennedy insists Red Sox won 2018 title fairly
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, January 15, 2020

    Whether the Boston Red Sox's 2018 World Series title was won legitimately is up for debate after Alex Cora was involved in sign-stealing scandals in back-to-back seasons with the 2017 champion Houston Astros and Red Sox.

    • The Red Sox held a press conference on Wednesday -- one day after parting ways with Cora -- and team president Sam Kennedy made it clear he doesn't believe the World Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers is tainted.

      Kennedy was asked, "Do you believe you beat the Dodgers fairly and squarely?"

      His reply: "Absolutely, yes."

      The Red Sox repeatedly declined to answer questions involving their 2018 title, citing that Major League Baseball's investigation is still ongoing.

      Cora was identified by MLB on Monday as a ringleader in the Astros' scheme to steal signs en route to their 2017 World Series championship, when he was Houston's bench coach. He became the Red Sox's manager the next year and led his new team to the title -- albeit with lingering suspicions regarding similar illegal sign-stealing.

      On Monday, MLB announced major sanctions against Houston, including one-season suspensions for manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who were subsequently fired by the Astros.

      On Tuesday, Red Sox brass met with Cora and all parties agreed that parting ways was necessary.

      "Alex by his own admission, and we agreed, played a central role in what went on in Houston and we all agreed that it was wrong and that we had a responsibility as stewards where that sort of behavior is unacceptable," Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said during the press conference.

      Werner requested that the team's fans withhold judgment on the 2018 team until the investigation is complete.

      Kennedy said that it wasn't anything that occurred in Boston that led to Cora no longer being the manager.

      "It is also important to recognize that this collective mutual decision yesterday was related exclusively to the incidents that took place in Houston," Kennedy said. "... Alex came to the conclusion that he could not effectively lead the organization going forward in light of the commissioner's findings and the ruling and we came to that conclusion as well."

      While Cora was tabbed as the ringleader of the sign-stealing scheme in Houston, also mentioned was then-player Carlos Beltran, who was recently hired to be manager of the New York Mets.

      The Mets haven't indicated how they plan to handle the situation with Beltran at a time when Cora and Hinch have lost their jobs.

      ESPN analyst Mark Teixeira, a former teammate of Beltran on the New York Yankees, says Beltran has to go.

      "They have to fire Carlos Beltran," Teixeira said on ESPN. "There's no way that Carlos Beltran, especially in the pressure cooker of New York, there's no way he can be the manager of the Mets. ...

      "You cannot have that guy lead your team. The New York papers, the Daily News and the Post and all of the tabloids, will eat up Carlos Beltran every single day until he's fired."

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Twins to sign free agent 3B Donaldson for 4 years
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 14, 2020

    Free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson agreed to four-year deal with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

    • The contract will be worth $92 million and includes a fifth-year option that could bring the value to $100 million, according to MLB.com, which reports this will be the second-largest contract given to a player age 33 or older. The record belongs to pitcher Kevin Brown, who signed a seven-year, $105 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was 34.

      Donaldson, 34, won the National League Comeback Player of the Year award while playing for the Atlanta Braves last season on a one-year, $23 million contract. He hit .259 with 37 home runs, 94 RBIs, 96 runs and 100 walks in 155 games.

      The three-time All-Star was the American League MVP with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, when he hit a career-best 41 home runs, led the AL with 123 RBIs and topped the majors with 122 runs scored. He appeared in just 52 games in an injury-plagued 2018, when he played for Toronto and the Cleveland Indians.

      Donaldson reportedly was considering four-year offers from the Braves, Twins and Washington Nationals.

      ESPN's Jeff Passan wrote that the Twins "made a big impression on him in their pitch meeting, and Donaldson's connection with manager Rocco Baldelli was immediate and strong. An excellent fit for both parties."

      Donaldson adds another power bat to the Twins, who set a major league record with 307 home runs last season, one more than the New York Yankees, who swept Minnesota in three games in an American League Division series.

      Also on Tuesday, the Twins announced previously reported three-year deal with Miguel Sano, who hit 34 home runs in 105 games, including 86 starts at third base, last season. He is expected to shift to first base after the Donaldson signing.

      Donaldson is a career .273 hitter with 219 home runs, a .509 slugging percentage and 645 RBIs in 1,038 games with the Oakland A's, Toronto, Cleveland and Atlanta.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cora out as Red Sox manager amid sign-stealing controversy
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, January 14, 2020

    Just over a year after manager Alex Cora led the Boston Red Sox to a World Series championship, the team parted ways with him Tuesday amid Major League Baseball's investigation into illegal sign-stealing.

    • Cora was identified by MLB on Monday as a ringleader in the Astros' scheme to steal signs en route to their 2017 World Series championship, when he was Houston's bench coach. He became the Red Sox's manager the next year and led his new team to the title -- albeit with lingering suspicions regarding similar illegal sign-stealing.

      MLB announced Monday major sanctions against Houston, including one-season suspensions for manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who were subsequently fired by the Astros.

      An MLB investigation into the Red Sox's actions remains open, but Boston didn't wait for the findings to part ways with Cora, 44.

      In a joint statement, Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and CEO Sam Kennedy said, "Today we met to discuss the Commissioner's report related to the Houston Astros investigation. Given the findings and the Commissioner's ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways. ...

      "This is a sad day for us. Alex is a special person and a beloved member of the Red Sox. We are grateful for his impact on our franchise. We will miss his passion, his energy and his significant contributions to the communities of New England and Puerto Rico."

      Cora said in the same statement, "I want to thank John, Tom, Sam, the players, our coaching staff and the entire Red Sox organization. I especially want to thank my family for their love and support.

      "We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization. I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward. My two years as manager were the best years of my life. It was an honor to manage these teams and help bring a World Series Championship back to Boston. I will forever be indebted to the organization and the fans who supported me as a player, a manager and in my efforts to help Puerto Rico. This is a special place. There is nothing like it in all of baseball, and I will miss it dearly."

      Cora still could face punishment from MLB stemming from his actions with the Astros and the Red Sox.

      MLB's findings regarding the Astros included: "Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros' dugout."

      Houston players then watched the live feed of the opposing catcher's signals, and once they cracked the code, they would bang on trash cans to alert batters when an off-speed pitch was coming.

      The use of technology to steal signs is not allowed in the major leagues, which is why the Astros were fined $5 million and stripped of their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, in addition to the suspensions levied to Hinch and Luhnow.

      The Red Sox went 108-54 in 2018 during Cora's first season in charge before beating the New York Yankees, Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason. Boston finished 84-78 last year and missed the playoffs.

      Cora had no previous coaching or managing experience before landing as the Astros' bench coach in 2017.

      As a player, he was a major-leaguer from 1998-2011, appearing with six teams and hitting .243 with a .310 on-base percentage, a .338 slugging percentage, 35 homers and 286 RBIs in 1,273 games.

      --Field Level Media