MLB Notes: Cleveland Indians to host the 2019 MLB All-Star Game

MLB Notes: Cleveland Indians to host the 2019 MLB All-Star Game

Baseball's mid-summer classic is sliding back home to Cleveland in two years.

The Indians, who have been enjoying a renaissance on the field, will host the 90th All-Star Game in 2019 at Progressive Field, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Friday as a light snow fell at the downtown ballpark.

Cleveland last hosted the event in 1997, when Indians catcher Sandy Alomar hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning to lead the AL to a win and earn MVP honors.

This will be the sixth time the game will be hosted by the Indians, the most among the teams.

Landing the game is another boost for the Indians, who won the pennant last year and took the Chicago Cubs to seven games before losing a dramatic World Series.

It's been a notable offseason for Cleveland, which added one of the game's elite sluggers by signing free agent Edwin Encarnacion.

Dodgers: Brandon Morrow agrees to minor-league deal
Right-hander Brandon Morrow has agreed to a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and will report to big league spring training.

The 32-year-old was 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 18 relief appearances for San Diego last year, when he dealt with shoulder issues and also pitched 20 games for the Arizona League Padres, Class A Lake Elsinore, Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A El Paso.

He is 45-43 with a 4.16 ERA in 113 starts and 141 relief appearances over 10 big league seasons that included time with Seattle (2007-09), Toronto (2010-14) and the Padres (2015-16).

Morrow's agreement was announced Thursday.

Cubs: Brett Anderson agrees to 1-year deal
The World Series champion Chicago Cubs added pitching depth, finalizing a $3.5 million, one-year contract with left-hander Brett Anderson on Thursday.

Anderson, who can make an additional $6.5 million in bonuses based on starts, figures to compete with Mike Montgomery for the fifth spot in the rotation behind Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. Anderson has dealt with several injuries during eight big league seasons and was limited to three starts and one relief appearance with the Los Angeles Dodgers last year.

Anderson was sidelined until August because of surgery for a bulging disk in his back and developed a blister on his pitching hand that limited him to two games in September.

He was 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA in a career-high 31 starts in 2015 helping the Dodgers win the third of four straight NL West titles.

Anderson, who turns 29 on Feb. 1, is 38-43 with a 3.86 ERA in 115 starts and 12 relief appearances with Oakland (2009-13), Colorado (2014) and the Dodgers (2015-16).

He can make $500,000 for 11 starts, $750,000 apiece for 14 and 17, $1 million each for 20, 23 and 26, and $1.5 million for 29.

Royals: Gather to celebrate and remember Ventura

The Kansas City Royals gathered together Friday to celebrate the life of pitcher Yordano Ventura, who died Sunday in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

Manager Ned Yost told Royals teammates, coaches, executives and support staff that he has struggled since Sunday's accident to figure out how to deal with the hole the 25-year-old's death will leave. He says he believes God has a plan for everyone, and vowed the team's bond will become stronger as they lean on faith and happy memories.

Pitcher Danny Duffy promised the Royals would use memories of Ventura's competitiveness to play every game in the next season with passion.

The meeting came hours before the team's annual FanFest, where more tributes to Ventura are planned.

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 1: Vince Velasquez and Tommy Joseph show off their power

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 1: Vince Velasquez and Tommy Joseph show off their power

BOX SCORE

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Phillies showed a little power in their 7-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night.

Tommy Joseph provided some of it.

Vince Velasquez provided a lot of it.

Joseph crushed a two-run home run to left field and also lined a double off the center-field wall on his way to a four-hit game. The double came off his bat at 109 miles per hour. The homer was his third of the spring.

Meanwhile, Velasquez showed off his big fastball in striking out seven Blue Jays over five innings of work. Vinny Velo's final pitch of the night was a 97-mph dart past a swinging Jose Bautista.

"That pitch felt really good coming out of my hand," Velasquez said. "Sometimes my fastball slips a little bit and I yank it, but this one I got right behind and threw it right through the catcher."

Velasquez actually struck out the side in that fifth inning against three pretty good hitters in Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Bautista.

"That last inning, he really let it go," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Pitch economy remains an area that Velasquez needs to improve on. He threw 87 pitches. But he was pleased with the way he attacked hitters in that final inning of work.

"I didn't attack in one inning," he said. "But in that last inning, I stopped fiddling around and trusted my stuff. I need to do that the whole time."

Velasquez gave up just one run, a homer to Martin. He allowed five hits and walked two.

Velasquez had a busy night. He drove home a run with a ground out against Aaron Sanchez. He also walked against Sanchez and scored a run on a dash home from third base after Freddy Galvis got hung up between first and second. Galvis waved Velasquez home. After crossing home plate, Velasquez, rather humorously, almost ran into the netted backstop.

"I just had momentum. I got excited," he said. "As soon as I saw Tulo (shortstop Troy Tulowitzki) make eye contact with Freddy, I booked it. He's going to think, 'Pitchers can't run,' so I showed off my athleticism."

After the outing, Velasquez pronounced himself ready for the regular season.

"I'm good to go," he said.

He made five Grapefruit League starts and gave up eight runs in 19 2/3 innings. He walked nine and struck out 25.

"It's been a strong, healthy, successful spring training," he said.

Velasquez will likely start the home opener on April 7. He will need to get some work in this weekend. The Phillies leave Florida on Friday. He could stay behind for a day and pitch at the minor-league complex if needed.

Offense clicks
The Phillies had 12 hits. They had 15 in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Up next
The Phillies play the Blue Jays again on Tuesday night. That game will be in Clearwater. Aaron Nola will start against Marco Estrada.

Andrew Knapp to make Phillies' roster -- remaining roster decisions are close

Andrew Knapp to make Phillies' roster -- remaining roster decisions are close

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The pathway for Andrew Knapp to make the Phillies' opening day roster as the backup catcher was cleared way back in November when he was added to the 40-man roster.

The job all but became Knapp's on Monday when the team released two veteran catchers who were not on the 40-man roster. When Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday were let go, Knapp became one of just two catchers in camp, the other being starter Cameron Rupp (see story).

So it's pretty obvious that the 25-year-old Knapp will open the season with the big club -- even though nothing will become official until rosters are filed with the commissioner's office this weekend.

"Obviously there are four or five days left," Knapp said. "I'm just going to keep trying to make good impressions and try to win a job. I'm keeping my head down, trying not to think about it too much."

Knapp was the Phillies' second-round draft pick of Cal-Berkeley in 2013. He has never played in the majors.

"It would be a dream come true," he said. "Everyone hopes to get called up at some point but to make a team on opening day would be pretty special and it would be the best moment in my career so far."

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin acknowledged that Knapp would probably make the club.

Mackanin would like to have the rest of his roster in order over the next day or two.

"As soon as possible," he said. "Because the last four or five games I'd like to play almost as if it were a season -- using the bullpen that way, using the bench in a certain way, seeing what it looks like, our bench guys, all our hitters. We just don't want to make a bad decision so we're just going to string it out as long as we can."

Roster questions must still be answered on the bench and in the bullpen.

How does the bench shape up? Andres Blanco, Aaron Altherr and Knapp are set. The Phils are expected to go with a five-man bench so that leaves two openings. There are four players vying for those spots: Chris Coghlan, Daniel Nava, Brock Stassi and Jesmuel Valentin. Valentin has impressed, but at 22 years old, he would benefit from playing every day at Triple A.

Mackanin praised Stassi's work on Monday. If Stassi makes the club, the final spot would come down to Coghlan and Nava.

"Stassi has obviously made a great impression, mainly because, not necessarily because of his results, but the fact that he had a lot of quality at-bats," Mackanin said. "It looks like he can handle making adjustments to the different pitchers and different situations. He seemed to handle left-handers well. He made a good impression, as has Coughlan. Nava has also been consistent throughout the spring."

Stassi, Coghlan and Nava are all non-roster players so the Phils would have to clear 40-man roster space to add any of them.

Two spots remain open in the bullpen. Adam Morgan, Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia, Alec Asher and Cesar Ramos are the candidates. All but Ramos is on the 40-man roster.

How will this all shake out?

More answers are probably coming Tuesday.