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 prospect J.P. Crawford learning to fight through failure

Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford learning to fight through failure

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Plastered on a wall outside the press box in Coca-Cola Park is a sign — "Pigs to the Bigs" — surrounded by dozens of stars.

Each has upon it the name of a player who has made the leap from the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs to the parent Phillies since Lehigh Valley began operations in 2008 — everyone from outfielder Chris Snelling (April 30, 2008) to pitcher Nick Pivetta (April 29, 2017), the latter of whom has since returned to the IronPigs.

It is a study in the star-crossed, of guys who bounced up and down (Pete Orr, July 8, 2011), guys who flamed out (Domonic Brown, July 28, 2010), guys whose fate is yet to be determined (Maikel Franco, Sept. 3, 2014).

The point being that the path to major-league stardom seldom follows a straight line.

That has been demonstrated once again by the Phillies' top prospect, shortstop J.P. Crawford, who spent weeks in bounce-back mode earlier this season.

And now finds himself there again.

His 0-for-4 night in Thursday's 8-4 loss to Indianapolis left him hitless in his last 16 at-bats, his slash line for the season at .175/.291/.221.

Recall that Crawford, the 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft, had exactly four hits in 48 at-bats over his first 14 games of the season, an average of .083.

Never before had the 22-year-old experienced anything like it, and he took a methodical approach to remedying the problem. He did some video work. He tinkered with his stance. He consulted with hitting coach Sal Rende and roving minor-league hitting instructor Andy Tracy. And slowly but surely, he began coming around.

The thinking at that point was that his slump might serve as a valuable lesson, a blessing in disguise.

As Crawford put it hours before Thursday's first pitch, "I'd rather struggle here than if I ever make it to the big leagues, God willing. I'd much rather have it [happen] down here than up there."

Though it will happen there, too. Baseball, everyone always says, is a game of failure. It's just a matter of how each player deals with it, works through it, minimizes it.

Lehigh Valley manager Dusty Wathan has said repeatedly that he was impressed by Crawford's approach to his scuffling start, that he thought the youngster treated it as "a growing opportunity" that can only help him down the line.

It was all Wathan could have hoped for, for Crawford or anybody else.

"I think it's a good thing to be able to have some experience to look back on, later on," he said. "Now, when they're going through it they probably don't think of it that way, but those of us who have been around baseball and been in situations like that personally, too, know that it's going to get better."

Wathan, seated at his office desk in a T-shirt and shorts before Thursday's game, has been around the block. He previously managed Crawford at Double A Reading, and believes those 14 games in April represent a blip.

"We know that J.P.'s a great player," Wathan said. "I think [such struggles] can actually end up being a good thing for these guys."

If Crawford, a native Californian, had few previous failures to draw upon — "He hasn't really had any," Wathan said — he at least had a ready roster of big-time athletes in his family with whom he could commiserate. His dad, Larry, was a CFL defensive back from 1981-89. His cousin, Carl, was a major-league outfielder for 15 years, ending last season. His older sister, Eliza, played softball at Cal State-Fullerton.

Certainly it appears they have kept him grounded, because he is singularly unimpressed by his draft status or ranking with various scouting services.

"I [couldn't] care less about that," he said. "All that doesn't really matter. Once you get on the field, everyone's the same. Everyone's the same player."

Though he was somewhat less than that early on. He was admittedly frustrated, but far from defeated.

"You've got to stay on the positive [side] on everything," he said. "You can't get too down on yourself, or else you're just going to do worse."

Had it been a major-league situation instead of a player-development situation, it is entirely possible that Wathan would have held him out of the lineup a day or two, just to let him clear his head.

"Or maybe not, because he contributes every night, somehow," the manager said.

And as Crawford said, "You're not going to get better sitting. You've got to go out there and play."

He admitted earlier this month that while he had once been reluctant about video study, he found great benefit in it when he was looking for answers in late April.

He decided to raise his hands while at the plate, and the hits began to come. He batted at a .253 clip over 24 games, including a six-game hitting streak, bringing his average to a season-best .196 on May 20.

Now it's back to the drawing board. It is, after all, a game of failure. It's just a matter of dealing with it, working through it, minimizing it.

He has become well-acquainted with the concept.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).