Braves sign former NFL player to Minor League deal

Sanders Commings has played defensive back for the University of Georgia and the Kansas City Chiefs since last playing baseball. But the Braves were intrigued enough by his athleticism to sign him to a Minor League deal.

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“We feel this is a tremendous athlete and an even better person,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “Our mantra has always been to leave no stone unturned. What’s the downside here?”

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Commings has not played baseball since his success at Westlake High School, located in Augusta, Ga., led the D-backs to select him in the 37th round of the 2008 MLB Draft.

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The 26-year-old athlete’s decision to begin playing the sport again after a long layoff mirrors the one recently made by Tim Tebow, who was pursued by the Braves before he signed a Minor League deal with the Mets in September.

After being selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Commings played just two games. He fractured his collarbone during his rookie season and then broke his right ankle during training camp in 2014. He was waived by the Chiefs before the start of the 2015 season.

While training for the NFL Combine, Commings developed a friendship with longtime Major Leaguer Jerry Hairston Jr. As the two were playing pickup basketball during this past offseason, Commings expressed his interest in attempting to play professional baseball with MLB jerseys.

Hairston invited Commings to the batting cage at his home and spent the past few months working with the former defensive back.
“He’s strong, he’s got pop, he’s just a tremendous athlete — you just don’t find that,” Hairston told MLB.com‘s Jesse Sanchez earlier this month. “You never know how a guy will react in Double-A or Triple-A. But he is worth the gamble, I can tell you that about cheap soccer jerseys.”

Hairston opined Commings has the athleticism necessary to play center field.

“I’m out there having a great time with a new team,” Brinson said. “Just trying to come back and do it right, just kind of show them what they missed out on. I wanted to go deep, but three hits will work better with china jerseys. It was fun seeing all those guys again, seeing the old faces. Having a good game makes it even sweeter.”

Brewers right-hander Junior Guerra jersey, who was the club’s PItcher of the Year in 2016, made his first start of the spring and pitched a scoreless inning. Guerra gave up a one-out double in the first to Shin-Soo Choo but struck out Rougned Odor and Mike Napoli.

Royals #25 Kendrys Morales White New Cool Base 2015 World Series Champions Gold Program Stitched MLB JerseyRangers knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa made his first start and pitched two scoreless despite allowing five baserunners. Brinson led off the game with a double and Gamboa picked him off second. Gamboa also got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second by striking out Michael Reed and getting Ivan DeJesus to fly out.

“It has been awhile, it was fun to get my feet wet and get back out there,” Gamboa said. “It’s competing, when you get between the lines, you’ve got to strap it on and get after it.”

“Everything here, it’s like, how could you not want to come see this?” Blyleven said. “From the virtual reality to watching the IMAX to going back in time to see how the game evolved. This is a traveling exhibition of baseball. It’s beautiful.”

New to the Hall of Fame Tour this year is MLBAM’s state-of-the-art virtual reality video game, “Home Run Derby.” Released in December 2016, the VR game is the first of its kind developed by any professional sports league, and allows fans to compete in a Major League Home Run Derby within the unparalleled 3D environment of one of eight iconic ballparks.

In addition, those attending the Hall of Fame Tour will have access to up-close and personal VR experiences from the 2016 postseason. Fans will be able to relive the dramatic highlights from the Wild Card Games all the way through the final out of the Cubs’ historic World Series win — and even the championship parade through Chicago.

Special interactive sessions with prominent figures in baseball and entertainment, including Hall of Famers, are also on tap for the 2017 Hall of Fame Tour. For one hour, a limited number of visitors can participate in a Town Hall-style conversation with dignitaries, who will be announced at a later date.

Manuel inducted into Philly Sports Hall of Fame

Charlie Manuel had a flashback or two late Wednesday night as rain started to fall during Game 7 of the World Series at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

It looked a little like Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.

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That game between the Phillies and Rays had to be postponed. The series resumed two days later and the Phillies won, making Manuel one of just two managers in Phillies history to win a World Series. His success during arguably the greatest era in franchise history is why he was inducted Thursday night into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

The Phillies hope to return to the World Series in the near future, although they will need some of their young talents to live up to their potential to make it happen. Manuel, who is a senior advisor to general manager Matt Klentak, shared a few thoughts on some of the Phillies’ top young players before his induction ceremony at Hilton City Avenue.

“I’ll say definitely, within the next two or three years, we’ve got a chance to have a real good hitting ballclub in the Major Leagues,” Manuel said. “And not only that, we’re going to have guys that are talented enough to play defense, run the bases and all of those things.”

Manuel looks at third baseman Maikel Franco and sees a hitter that should have 100-plus RBIs at the end of the season. Franco, 24, hit .255 with 25 home runs, 88 RBIs and a .733 OPS in his first full big league campaign.

“I think Matt [Stairs] is going to help him,” Manuel said about the Phillies’ new hitting coach. “I think when [Franco] gets going and hitting real good and feeling real good, he gets caught up in it. I’d see Jim Thome smoking balls in BP out of the yard. I told him, ‘Hey, Thome, don’t be doing that, man. Hit the ball low. Hit it through the fence.’ Because he’d get in the game, overswing and strike out four times.

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Kendrick hit .255 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs and a .691 OPS last season. He posted a combined .758 OPS the previous five seasons with the Angels and Dodgers, which was 14 percent above league average. The Phils believe Kendrick can return to prior form with regular playing time, something he lacked this season with the Dodgers.

“We believe Howie Kendrick is definitely a candidate to have a bounceback year,” Klentak said. “A lot of the underlying more advanced statistics would suggest he got a bit unlucky last year.”

Kendrick had a .301 BABIP last season, compared to a .342 BABIP in 2015, .347 in ’14 and .340 in ’13.

Kendrick was attractive to the Phillies, not only because they believe he can provide a much needed veteran presence in the lineup and clubhouse, but because he can play multiple positions and because he is in the final year of a two-year, $20 million contract. He will make $10 million next season.

Kendrick’s ability to play multiple positions is important because the Phils plan to place several players on the 40-man roster in advance of next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Some of those players might not reach the big leagues next year, which means the team will have less flexibility with its 25-man roster. Having an everyday player like Kendrick who can play multiple positions could come in handy.

“That’s something — just in terms of general roster management — that is going to be very important to our China jerseys this year,” Klentak said. “The versatility that the [trade] brings to our team is a huge benefit.”

But could Kendrick also be insurance if they trade Cesar Hernandez jersey?

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“We are not looking to trade Cesar Hernandez,” Klentak said.

Men's Pittsburgh Pirates Nike Gray Cooperstown Collection Hybrid Pullover Hoodie“In this market, he’s probably the foremost young, under-30 pitcher on the market,” Boras told reporters. “He had a 3.70 ERA in Philadelphia, which in case you didn’t know is a little bit of an offensive ballpark. He’s done very, very well. He’s got a fresh arm. He has the highest spin rate on his breaking ball. He has a lot of components that tell you why he’s successful — command, changeup, breaking ball — that are creating a lot of interest for a lot of teams.

“Then in a marketplace where MLB jerseys of the free-agent market is very short on starting pitching, it’s really advantageous for him.”

Hellickson, 29, is expected to reject the Phillies’ offer. He said in September he prefers a multi-year contract and he will likely get one. Hellickson is one of the top pitchers available in a weak starting-pitching market. He went 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA, a career-high 32 starts and a career-high-tying 189 innings.

If Hellickson rejects the Phillies’ offer, any team that signs him will lose its highest unprotected Draft pick. That could be an issue if teams question Hellickson’s health or ability to replicate his 2016 success over several seasons. He posted a combined 4.86 ERA in 72 games (71 starts) with the Rays and D-backs from 2013-15.

“A qualifying offer is a good thing and a bad thing,” Boras said. “Maybe the only good thing about it is you’re identified as one of the special talents in the free-agent market. In the pitching market, there aren’t many starting pitchers that achieve that, that are in that realm.”

Source: Angels relieve scouting director Wilson of duties

The Angels relieved scouting director Ric Wilson of his duties on Thursday, though they have discussed other options for Wilson to remain with the organization, according to a source and multiple media reports.

Wilson is considering remaining with the organization, the source said. The organization is currently compiling a list of candidates to replace cheap jerseys and Wilson.

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Wilson and other team officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Wilson had served as the organization’s scouting director since Oct. 21, 2010 and has been with the Angels since 2003. Prior to being hired as a national crosschecker, he had spent 11 years with the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Since replacing Eddie Bane as the scouting director, only two players Wilson has drafted — first baseman C.J. Cron and catcher Jett Bandy jersey — have a positive Wins Above Replacement according to baseball-reference. Both Cron and Bandy were selected in 2011, Wilson’s first draft as the scouting director.

The Angels’ farm system is widely regarded as one of the lowest ranked in baseball, as they are one of two organizations without a single player on the MLB Pipeline list of the top 100 prospects in baseball.

Wilson’s resources as scouting director were at times limited, as the signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton took away the team’s first-round picks in both 2012 and 2013. He dealt with changes in the front office, as he served at the role during the tenures of Tony Reagins, Jerry Dipoto jersey and current general manager Billy Eppler.

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The different general managers have led to contrasting approaches to the Draft, as Dipoto’s emphasis on college players with high floors and low ceilings went out the window for the 2016 Draft. Wilson said following the Draft that Eppler’s emphasis was on putting high-potential guys in the Angels’ system, something which had been lacking in recent years.

Angels of Anaheim #27 Mike Trout Black Fashion Flexbase Authentic Collection Stitched MLB JerseyGeneral manager Billy Eppler said the organization is having internal discussions about whether to use Meyer as a starter or reliever in the Majors this year. Scioscia doesn’t think pitch count would be an issue, because the club will have enough arms and wholesale MLB jerseys with other callups.

“We’re going to have enough pitching where you’re not going to be so concerned about a starter’s length as you would be in April, May or whatever it may be,” Scioscia said. “We’ll have enough arms up here to where we’ll put him in the best role, or the role that the organization feels is best to take a look at him.”

Meyer was a first-round pick (No. 23 overall) by the Nationals in the 2011 Draft out of the University of Kentucky, and he was dealt to the Twins the following year for Denard Span. Meyer made his first big league start on May 3, striking out four and allowing three runs on three hits in 2 2/3 innings against the Astros. He missed time with shoulder inflammation in June.
“I think big arm, power breaking ball, nice delivery,” Scioscia said. “All the positives that made him a top pick in the country a couple years ago. Hopefully he’s back on track.”

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Smith, the club’s No. 5 prospect, has been the best starter with Salt Lake. The left-hander is 8-8 with a 4.55 ERA in 25 starts, with 121 strikeouts and 43 walks in 148 1/3 innings. Smith showed improvement in August, going 1-0 with a 1.83 ERA over his past three starts. He’s not yet on the 40-man roster, but Los Angeles has room for him.

Pujols wasn’t the only standout on Thursday.

Matt Shoemaker (7-13) exited after seven strong innings with a 3-2 lead, and the Angels took that advantage into the bottom of the eighth, thanks to the best nine pitches rookie reliever Jose Valdez jersey has thrown in his brief stint with the big league club.
Valdez, who had struggled with control on the road, came in with the potential tying run on second in Norichika Aoki, who had slashed a double off shortstop Andrelton Simmons’ right knee.

Valdez, featuring fastballs in the 95-96 mph range, got Franklin Gutierrez to fly out, struck out Robinson Cano, and retired Nelson Cruz on a grounder to Simmons. Cano and Cruz had hit solo homers off Shoemaker, giving them a combined 58 for sports jerseys and the season.
“Jose did great to come out and get the heart of their order,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “A big effort from Jose.”

Valdez was the only one of the Angels right-handed relievers who had not pitched Wednesday, when Tyler Skaggs exited in the fourth.

Dwayne Harris: Giants working on deep passing game

The New York Giants have found a new kicker to fill-in for Josh Brown when he serves his one-game suspension.

After holding a tryout with multiple kickers Monday, the Giants signed former New York Jets jerseys and Houston Texans kicker Randy Bullock, the team announced. Bullock’s deal is for one year, a source with knowledge of the deal told NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo.

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Bullock appeared in three games with the Texans last season and his last full season came with Houston in 2014 when he hit 30 of 35 field-goal attempts (longest 55 yards).

The move comes a few days after training camp leg Tom Obarski jersey missed his only field-goal attempt against the Buffalo Bills jerseys. Former Saints, Browns and Steelers kicker Garrett Hartley was among those who participated in Monday’s tryouts, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

The news can’t be welcome for Obarski, who missed a 27-yard attempt in Orchard Park. With the team largely withholding comment on Brown, who violated the league’s personal conduct policy after a domestic violence incident, it would seem the Giants were not content for just settling upon the best kicker in the building.

The correct answer is middle linebacker for the New York Giants and wholesale jerseys, a position of relentless turnover during this decade. Jasper Brinkley, New York’s “mike” at the close of last season, was released over the weekend, ensuring the Giants would start someone new at the position for the seventh consecutive season.

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Brinkley joins a club that includes fellow one-year wonders Uani ‘Unga (2015), Jon Beason (2014), Mark Herzlich (2013), Chase Blackburn jersey(2012), Greg Jones (2011) and Jon Goff (2010). Of the six previous opening day starters, five are no longer in the NFL, according to Newsday.

We still don’t know if or how well Victor Cruz will perform with wholesale jerseys after missing more than a year. Receiver Sterling Shepard has drawn rave reviews, but is an unknown as a rookie. The Giants didn’t upgrade the offensive line. The running game enters this year with an uninspiring collection atop the depth chart.

Clearly, New York has plenty to work on when training camp opens later this month. Receiver Dwayne Harris jersey pointed out two points of emphasis and cheap jerseys this offseason:

“I think we’re getting better just throwing the ball down the field more,” Harris told the team’s official website. “We’re definitely trying to work on throwing the ball down the field, throwing more deep passes. And (we need to get) the run game going. That’s one of the key elements in our offense. We got it going later on in the season. We’ve just got to continue that momentum and keep carrying it in the beginning of this season.”

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Nike Cowboys #4 Dak Prescott Navy Blue Team Color Men's Stitched NFL Limited Gold JerseyImproving the running game is obvious. New York averaged a middling 100.6 yards per game in 2015.

Adding a deep-ball attack is a more interesting examination.

The Giants led the NFL in completions between 6-10 yards last season, with 150, per the team. However, on passes 11-20 yards, Manning completed just 85, good for 25th in the NFL.

Outside of Beckham, the Giants didn’t possess a deep threat last season. And with OBJ consistently double covered, most of his big plays came on runs after the catch, not long bombs. Harris could be a solution in 2016, but his route running has been suspect throughout his career, and making a leap in Year 6 is difficult to fathom.

Personnel aside, coach Ben McAdoo’s offense just doesn’t function in bombs-away mode. Unlike previous play caller, Kevin Gilbride, McAdoo’s offense relies on a quick passing attack to get the ball out of Manning’s hands swiftly. McAdoo favors high-percentage timing routes over deep gambles — this attack adds the benefit of aiding a weak offensive line by getting the ball out quick. Engineering a more efficient Manning was a reason McAdoo was hired three seasons ago — and part of the reason he was promoted to head coach this year.

While the Giants could certainly use a boost in their deep passing game, don’t expect huge strides in that area in 2016.