MLB Notes: Yordano Ventura’s toxicology report will not be released to public

MLB Notes: Yordano Ventura’s toxicology report will not be released to public

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The toxicology report on Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura won't be released to the public following his death last month in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic.

Tessie Sanchez, a spokeswoman for the Dominican attorney general's office, said the toxicology report is not a public document, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/2ldVdLC ) reported Thursday. The findings only will be released to Ventura's family and attorneys.

Ventura was 25 on Jan. 22 when he died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. The right-hander pitched his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

The toxicology results are an important piece in determining whether the Royals are obligated to pay the remainder of Ventura's contract, which is valued at $20.25 million. Royals officials initially said they were told toxicology results for Ventura would be completed in about three weeks. (see full story)

Giants: Hill signed to minor league deal
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Versatile infielder Aaron Hill has agreed to a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants and would get a $2 million, one-year deal if he is added to the 40-man roster.

Hill joins a growing list of veteran infielders in the mix to try to land a job out of spring training, along with Jimmy Rollins and Korean Jae-gyun Hwang. Eduardo Nunez is the projected starting third baseman with Conor Gillaspie expected to play as well.

The 34-year-old Hill, who has familiarity with the NL West from his years with the Arizona Diamondbacks, spent last season between Milwaukee and Boston. He batted .262 with 10 home runs, 14 doubles and 38 RBIs in 125 games. Hill spent the previous five seasons with the D-backs.

Orioles: Brach wins arbitration
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Brad Brach became the first player to beat the Baltimore Orioles in salary arbitration in 22 years, ending the team's nine-hearing winning streak.

Brach was awarded $3.05 million instead of the team's offer of $2,525,000 by arbitrators Edna Francis, Robert Herzog, Sylvia Skratek. The panel issued its decision, Friday, a day after hearing arguments.

A right-hander who turns 31 in April, Brach was 10-4 with a 2.05 ERA in a career-high 71 appearances last year and made $1.3 million. He struck out 92, also a career best, in 79 innings and had two saves.

Baltimore had not lost since its case against pitcher Ben McDonald in 1995. Orioles backup catcher Caleb Joseph lost his case this month and will get $700,000 rather this his $1 million request.

Players and teams have split 14 decisions. New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances was the final case Friday, and the 15 hearings are the most since clubs won 10 of 16 decisions in 1994.

Yankees: First arbitration case in 10 years
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Dellin Betances and the New York Yankees have argued the year's final salary arbitration case, the first for the team in nearly a decade.

Eligible for arbitration for the first time, Betances asked for $5 million. The Yankees argued during Friday's hearing he should be paid $3 million.

A decision by arbitrators Steven Wolf, Dan Brent and Sylvia Skratek is expected Saturday. Players and teams have split 14 decisions this year, and the 15 hearings are the most since clubs won 10 of 16 decisions in 1994.

New York renewed Betances at the major league minimum $507,500 last year. A setup man for the first four months, he took over as closer after the trades of Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs and Andrew Miller to Cleveland.

A right-hander who turns 28 in March, Betances figures to be primarily a setup man again following Chapman's decision to return to the Yankees, who gave him an $86 million, five-year contract -- a record for a relief pitcher. Betances struck out 126, leading big league relievers for the third straight year, and went 3-6 with a 3.08 ERA and 12 saves in 17 chances.

Since defeating Mariano Rivera in 2000, the Yankees' only arbitration hearing was in 2008 when pitcher Chien-Ming Wang was awarded a raise from $489,500 to the team's $4 million offer instead of his $4.6 million request.

Rays: Tommy Hunter agrees to minor league contract
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Reliever Tommy Hunter has agreed to a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, who are giving the 30-year right-hander an opportunity to earn a job in a revamped bullpen.

The team said details of the contract had yet to be finalized. The 30-year-old, who pitched for four other teams during his nine-year major league career, reported to spring training Friday.

Hunter was 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 33 appearances for Cleveland and Baltimore last year. in 2016. He also has pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said Hunter "brings a ton of energy to the clubhouse" and is a "power pitcher who's pitched a lot of big innings in the AL East."

"It's always nice to have that experience," Cash said, adding that Tampa Bay also pursued the right-hander last offseason.

"Veteran arm, versatile, a guy who has shown the ability to go more than an inning," Cash said. "We're thrilled. We really recruited him hard."

Nationals: Murphy talks about Tebow’s power
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- No less an authority on hitting than last season's runner-up for NL MVP thinks Tim Tebow has some ability with a bat -- he just needs more work.

Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy said Friday at spring training that he recently spent some time working on batting with Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback who now is pursuing a baseball career. Tebow is expected to be in minor league camp with the New York Mets next month.

Murphy said he and Tebow live about 15 houses apart in Jacksonville but had never met.

"He's quite an impressive person," Murphy said.

And as for his assessment of Tebow's skills with a bat in hand, based on their hitting session at a Jacksonville high school?

"I think that the power is real. What he needs is at-bats," Murphy said. "He needs 500, 600 plate appearances to try to make adjustments on the fly. It's always interesting to see what happens when -- he's done all this work, and he's improved greatly -- you go from someone trying to hit your barrel to someone trying to not hit your barrel. He just needs that experience to pull from, which only a full season can give you."

Murphy finished second in the NL with a .347 average and fourth with 104 RBIs in 2016 for the NL East champion Nationals.

He enjoys talking and thinking about hitting -- and working on it with players, including at a clinic he runs with his brother for high schoolers from Jacksonville.

The Mets signed Tebow to a minor league contract late last year.

An outfielder who didn't play the sport in college, he hit .194 in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 20 times in 70 plate appearances.

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.