Ben Palensky, Keil Krumwiede help get UNO bats rolling in Summit baseball sweep

UNO coach Evan Porter hinted recently that his offense was on the brink of breaking out.The Mavericks made good on his word Saturday, scoring 22 runs in a doubleheader sweep of IPFW.Ben Palensky hit a grand slam and drove in six runs as UNO (6-12) run-ruled the Mastodons 15-0 in the Summit League opener for both teams. Keil Krumwiede then drove in five in a 7-0 victory in the nightcap. “It was good to see all the work these guys have done through the nonconference schedule, and through the offseason, come into play,” Porter said. “It showed in glimpses during our first 16 games. It was good to see us start conference the way we can play.”UNO entered the doubleheader, which was moved to the turf at Creighton Prep’s Jurgensen Park following Friday’s storm, with one home run in its first 16 games — a Palensky blast in a loss to Ohio.The Mavs hit four of them on Saturday, including three during their 15-hit performance in the opener.UNO already held a 4-0 lead entering the third inning of that contest. Then Thomas DeBonville took the first pitch from IPFW starter Brandon Phelps out of the park to open the bottom half. Three of the next four batters then reached, setting the table for the Palensky rocket that put the game away early.“Honestly, I was just trying to go up the middle,” he said of the grand slam. “Coach has been telling me to just stick with the approach and go middle-away. He just hung a slider up. I got a good jump on it.”Palensky added a two-run double in the following inning as the Mavs scored four more runs.Grant Suponchick led off the fifth with a solo shot as UNO went on to end the game after seven innings.The momentum carried over to the nightcap. Krumwiede put the Mavs in front early when he launched a three-run homer off Damian Helm in the first. He added a run-scoring double in the fifth and an RBI single in the seventh. Krumwiede and Braden Rogers combined for nine of UNO’s Continue Reading

AP source: Hellickson, Nats agree to minor league deal

A person familiar with the deal says right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a minor league contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced. Hellickson, who turns 31 on April 8, would get a $2 million, one-year contract if added to the 40-man roster and would have a chance to make an additional $4 million in performance bonuses. He was 8-11 with a 5.43 ERA last year in 30 starts for Philadelphia and Baltimore, which acquired him July 28. Hellickson was 2-6 with a 6.97 ERA in 10 starts with the Orioles. Washington’s fifth-starter slot is uncertain in a rotation that includes Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark. ___ More MLB baseball: Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed. Continue Reading

Machado: Judge comments ‘blown out of proportion’

TAMPA, Fla. — Manny Machado broke his two-day silence on Aaron Judge’s illicit recruiting pitch, calling the Yankees slugger “a great guy” and saying he thought the entire affair was “blown out of proportion.” Machado, the Orioles’ star shortstop who is a free agent at the end of the season, had ducked reporters in the immediate aftermath of Judge revealing he made an on-field plea to Machado to join the Yankees. Judge said he told Machado on Wednesday, ‘You’d look good in pinstripes,’ and then volunteered that information to a small group of reporters. Judge was admonished by Major League Baseball for his comments, with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman delivering the message on MLB’s behalf. Machado, speaking to Baltimore-area reporters in Port St. Lucie after a spring training game against the Mets on Friday, had only nice things to say about Judge, last year’s AL Rookie of the Year. “I think he’s a great guy,” Machado said. “He’s a great kid, and he always means well. Everyone always jokes around about a lot of things, and things that we say on the field usually stay on the field. I’ve told a lot of people they’d look good in black and orange [the Orioles’ uniform colors] as well, trying to get guys over here. It’s just part of the game. You want to put the best team out there on your field and if I’m a part of this team, I want to bring the best guys over here as much as I can. I want to get a ring as well.” Machado, who at 25 is the same age as Judge, is already in his seventh big-league season, all with the Orioles. It seems unlikely he will stay in Baltimore past this season and he may even be dealt away before the trade deadline if the Orioles decide to do a full rebuild. Baltimore discussed trading Machado during the offseason. Machado has switched back from third base to his natural position of shortstop. He is Continue Reading

DeGrom dominates for five shutout innings

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Even Jacob deGrom is impressed with how good deGrom has looked in his first two spring-training games. DeGrom dominated the Orioles for five shutout innings Friday at First Data Field: one hit, no walks, eight strikeouts. He threw about 55 pitches, plus about 10 more in the bullpen to simulate the start of a sixth inning. “I felt good today. The main thing was trying to stay smooth out there and work on all my pitches,” deGrom said. “I was actually able to throw them better than I thought I was going to be able to.” DeGrom’s curveball — his No. 5 pitch — was a strength Friday. “He commented on that after to us, that that’s the best his curveball has felt,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “If he can add that pitch to his repertoire often, he can be pretty dangerous.” The outing capped a week of considerable progress for deGrom, who had his spring buildup delayed by lower back stiffness. A week ago, deGrom had yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game. Now, he’s been in two and pitched as long in Friday’s start as Matt Harvey’s longest start (and longer than Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz). DeGrom is all caught up with his mates in the rotation. Still, the minor physical setback cost him what would have been the first Opening Day start of his career. “Definitely disappointing,” deGrom said. “I would have liked to start it. Hopefully there will be more.” Vargas gets hit Lefthander Jason Vargas took a comebacker off his glove (right) hand in the fifth inning of his minor-league game Friday. X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day. Facing Nationals minor-leaguers, Vargas allowed one run, three hits and two walks in four innings. He struck out seven and threw 55 pitches. Cespedes still hurting Leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes had a brace on his sore right wrist when he left First Data Field Friday afternoon. He said he has not swung a Continue Reading

Recruiting report: Creighton, Nebraska target Trevor Barajas has titles in mind for Omaha Westside

It took Trevor Barajas a year to get comfortable being a leader in the Omaha Westside baseball program. The sophomore outfielder learned enough as a freshman that he feels he can help push the older players and help his team accomplish all of their goals."Our main goal is to make it back to the state championship and win it," Barajas said. "We want to continue that into the summer and win the Legion state championship, then a regional and Legion World Series championship."Barajas' play has put him on the radar of college coaches. He unofficially visited Creighton in early February and has garnered some interest from Nebraska. "I really like the culture (at Creighton)," Barajas said, "and it really seems like they have a bond together between all of the players and coaches."A good education is important to Barajas, and he wants to find a school where he feels comfortable with coaches and teammates.He's being recruited as an outfielder, though he's shown versatility and can play first base and pitch when needed. He said the best part of his game is his power at the plate."I am a perfectionist," Barajas said. "I love to work hard and do the extra stuff, whether it be getting teammates excited or pushing teammates as hard as I do myself."Barajas is a multi-sport athlete that plays football in the fall. He plans to play with the Nebraska Sluggers showcase team this summer when it doesn't conflict with his Legion schedule. Continue Reading

Ex-Astros prospect a huge jerk, but more must condemn abusers

Slimeball Danry Vasquez was the runaway Jerk of the Week for his role in a 2016 surveillance video released Wednesday that shows the former minor leaguer slapping around an old girlfriend and dragging her down the stairs like some kind of animal. So it was refreshing to see several MLB players come out hard against the disgraced ex-prospect. Houston players Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers, part of the organization Vasquez was playing for at the time of the attack, went after the former Astros farmhand with strong rejections of his behavior we do not see enough of in sports. Verlander tweeted, "[Middle finger emoji] you man. I hope the rest of your life without baseball is horrible. You deserve all that is coming your way!" MLB stars react to Danry Vasquez: ‘We must fight for the victims' Just as the Ray Rice assault took on new gravity after the release of the elevator video and as the Joe Mixon beating touched a new nerve when we actually saw what he did, the Vasquez incident happened two years ago and didn't register on the media landscape until the video dropped this week. "The issue here is no one cared as much until a video was leaked & now everyone is outraged!?" Astros pitcher Lance McCullers tweeted. "This is the reality of domestic violence. It's always brutal, always sickening. We must fight for the victims, video or not. He should be in jail. If you need help, find it. People care." Vasquez, who was fired by the Independent League Lancaster Barnstormers after the video went public, got it high and hard from his peers, which a stark difference from how football players are treated by their peers following domestic abuse incidents. You have to think that if Verlander ever got the chance to pitch to a guy like him, Vasquez might want to wear two batting helmets. Woman attacked by baseball player regrets not pressing charges By comparison, NFL players Continue Reading

Reggie Jackson returns to Steinbrenner Field

TAMPA, Fla. — Mr. October has returned to Steinbrenner Field. Reggie Jackson, who underwent right knee surgery on Tuesday after a fall on Monday, was spotted walking around the Yankees’ spring training home on Friday afternoon. Jackson, 71, was using a walker and had a brace on under his jeans. Asked how he was feeling, the Hall of Famer said: “Good. How are you?” Jackson, a Yankees special adviser, is a frequent presence at Steinbrenner Field and Yankee Stadium. Anthony Rieber covers baseball, as well as the NFL, NBA and NHL, for the sports department. He has worked at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998, and has been in his current position since July 5, 2004. Continue Reading

Eugenio Suarez, Reds agree to $66 million, 7-year contract

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Third baseman Eugenio Suarez and the Cincinnati Reds have agreed to a $66 million, seven-year contract, a deal that includes a team option for 2025 that if exercised would make the deal worth $79 million over eight years.The deal announced Friday supersedes the $3.75 million, one-year contract the 26-year-old was awarded when he lost his salary arbitration case last month. The team option is for $15 million with a $2 million buyout.Cincinnati obtained Suarez from Detroit in December 2014 as part of the trade that sent right-hander Alfredo Simon to the Tigers. Suarez hit .260 last season and set career bests with 26 homers, 82 RBIs and .828 OPS. He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2020 season.Suarez has a .258 average with 64 homers and 223 RBIs in four major league seasons.———More AP baseball: Continue Reading

What Jake Arrieta’s signing means for the Phillies [opinion]

How happy am I with the Phillies’ signing of free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta?Let me count the ways.First, he immediately gives the team’s starting rotation a huge boost, and takes some of the pressure off of 24-year-old Aaron Nola, whose growth last season into at least a No. 2 starter was one of the best developments of 2017.I like three-year contract length, too, because if Arrieta, 32, underperforms or gets hurt, the Phils aren’t on the hook for extended years, like they have been in the past.I’m also trying to be reasonable in my expectations, figuring Arrieta is not the dominant hurler he was a few years ago, but still remembering he posted a 2.28 ERA after the 2017 all-star break as the Cubs made a run to the National League Central crown.Even a fair to middling Arrieta, however, is definitely better than what the Phillies were throwing out there on the mound most games last season — with the exception of Nola.Then, of course, there’s what this signing means for the direction of the franchise.That came through loud and clear with owner John Middleton’s comments after Tuesday’s introductory news conference with Arrieta.“It’s a message to everybody, not just free agents. I want everybody in our organization to understand what our mission is and how we're supposed to go about it. I want the players on our roster not named Jake Arrieta to understand what our mission is, our coaches, front office, our fans, other organizations.“We’re serious about winning and we’re going to do what it takes to win.”Does the acquisition of Arrieta make the Phils contenders for a wildcard playoff spot this season? Probably not, but with his addition and that of first baseman Carlos Santana, along with the hoped-for maturation of the club’s young players (J.P. Crawford, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, etc.), the future could be pretty bright in a few years.Are you listening, 2018 Continue Reading

Ed Charles, member of 1969 Miracle Mets, dead at 84

NEW YORK (AP) — Ed Charles, the third baseman known as "The Glider" who helped lead the Miracle Mets to the 1969 World Series title with his veteran guidance and poetry, has died. He was 84.Charles died Thursday in New York, the J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home said.Born Edwin Charles on April 29, 1933, in Daytona Beach, Florida, he was inspired to become a professional baseball player when he saw Jackie Robinson, then a minor leaguer in the Brooklyn Dodgers farm system, on a train at spring training in 1946. A year later, Robinson broken the big league color barrier.Charles was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1952 and spent nearly a decade in the minor leagues before he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics after the 1961 season. He made his big league debut with the A's that April at age 29 but is most known for his time with the Mets, who acquired him on May 10, 1967, for outfielder Larry Elliot and $50,000.Charles hit just .207 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 169 at-bats in 1969, which turned out to be his final season, but he inspired his young teammates with his poetry and came up with the occasional big hit.He singled off Baltimore's Dave McNally in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series and scored the go-ahead run on Al Weis' sacrifice fly as the Mets won 2-1 for a 2-0 Series lead en route to New York's first title. Charles provided leadership to an expansion team that had established itself as lovable losers in its initial seasons. Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy was fond of saying: "Never hang a slider to the Glider."Released by the Mets after the World Series, Charles never played again. He finished with a .263 career batting average, 86 homers and 421 RBIs.The Mets dubbed him their poet laureate. He wrote rhyming verse about Robinson and other sports-related subjects and would sometimes send poems to fans who requested autographs, the Daily News reported.The team said he is survived by longtime companion Lavonnie Brinkley, sons Edwin and Continue Reading