MLB Notes: Mariners trade Kelley to Yankees

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MLB Notes: Mariners trade Kelley to Yankees

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees added depth to their bullpen Wednesday night, acquiring right-hander Shawn Kelley from the Seattle Mariners for minor league outfielder Abraham Almonte.

The 28-year-old Kelley went 2-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 47 appearances for Seattle last season and figures to fill a middle-relief role with the Yankees. He was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Feb. 7 when the club signed catcher Kelly Shoppach.

About a week earlier, Kelley and the Mariners agreed to a $935,000, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration. Kelley is 10-9 with a 3.52 ERA in four big league seasons, all with Seattle.

Almonte, 23, batted .276 with four homers, 25 RBIs and 30 steals in 78 games for Double-A Trenton last season. He was an Eastern League midseason All-Star.

The Yankees and Mariners have been trading partners several times over the last couple of years, pulling off deals involving Ichiro Suzuki and Jesus Montero.

To make room for Kelley on the 40-man roster, the Yankees placed third baseman Alex Rodriguez on the 60-day disabled list. Rodriguez is recovering from hip surgery and is not expected back until at least the All-Star break.

New York's 40-man roster is now full (see full story).

Wainwright, Cards put talks on hold
JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals have put contract talks on hold, though neither side expects many obstacles to a long-term deal.

"No one has drawn any lines in the sand," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Tuesday.

Wainwright, 31, who is in the final year of a contact plus extension that will have paid him $36 million over six years, hopes talks will not become drawn out.

"There does need to be some urgency on both sides just to try to get this done if it's going to happen before the season starts, just for peace of mind for everyone," Wainwright said. He said the contract he signed during the 2008 spring training became a distraction.

Now, he says, he is in a different place.

"A player's first contact is the `I want to get settled contract, I want to get that nest egg,'" Wainwright said. "I thought about the risks every day when I went home, walking down the stairs, my bullpen sessions. I just said, `This is ridiculous.' Once you get that out of the way . financially I'm in a place where I don't have to worry about a contract as much."

Mozeliak wants to take no chances that this could linger (see full story).

Indians sign Matsuzaka to minor-league deal
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The last time a team brought Daisuke Matsuzaka into camp, it paid more than $100 million to get him.

On Wednesday, the Cleveland Indians brought him into camp to compete for the back end of their rotation with a deal that will make him just $1.5 million this season. He can earn an additional $2.5 million in performance bonuses.

A little different this time around.

"I just want him to be Daisuke," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

The Japanese right-hander and Francona have a history together, of course, while the latter was manager in Boston and Matsuzaka was a starter for the Red Sox. The two officially reunited on Wednesday here, and Francona said Matsuzaka threw 35 pitches. He described his delivery as "crisp" and it reminded him of how he looked "when he was healthy."

In 2007, Matsuzaka, 32, posted a 15-12 record with a 4.40 ERA as the Red Sox raced to a World Series title. He followed that with an 18-3 mark and a 2.90 ERA the next season (see full story).

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler played with Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez when the two were growing up in Cuba. They traveled together to Venezuela for a youth tournament.

Soler said Fernandez's ability was obvious, right from the start.

"Since he was a child, since we were kids, I knew he had something," Soler said through a translator. "He had a talent. It was very impressive."

Fernandez's death in a boating accident at the age of 24 cast a dark shadow over the major leagues on Sunday. Miami's home game against Atlanta was canceled, and several ballparks observed moments of silence. Wrigley Field's iconic hand-operated scoreboard displayed Fernandez's No. 16 in its pitching column next to Miami.

But the loss of Fernandez was felt most acutely in baseball's growing Cuban community.

"He was one of those guys that everybody loved," St. Louis Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena said. "He was one of those guys that everybody knew exactly what he meant to our community. For us, it's a big, big loss. It's one of those things where our thoughts and prayers are obviously with his family, the Marlins' organization and the fans. But it gets a little bit closer because he was part of our Cuban family."

There were 23 Cubans on opening-day major league rosters this year, an increase of five over last season and the most since the commissioner's office began releasing data in 1995. Many of the players share similar stories when it comes to their perilous journey from the communist country to the majors, and the difficulty of adjusting to life in the United States.

A native of Santa Clara, Cuba, Fernandez was unsuccessful in his first three attempts to defect, and spent several months in prison. At 15, Fernandez and his mother finally made it to Mexico, and were reunited in Florida with his father, who had escaped from Cuba two years earlier.

He was drafted by the Marlins in 2011, and quickly turned into one of the majors' top pitchers.

"How he was on the mound was a reflection of him," Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "A guy who had a lot of fun, was himself. A very talkative guy, he would come into the room and you'd know he was in the room. Never big-leagued anyone, very professional. No matter what, he would talk to you about hitting, because he thought he was the best hitter, and he (would) talk to you about pitching, because he thought he was the best pitcher."

Alonso said Fernandez's death was "a big-time shock." Yasiel Puig used torn pieces of white athletic tape to display Fernandez's jersey on the wall in the home dugout at Dodger Stadium. Cardinals rookie Aledmys Diaz, who had known Fernandez since they were little kids, declined an interview request through a team spokeswoman.

"We Cuban players know each other well and all of us have a great relationship," Pena said. "For us, it's devastating news when we woke up. We were sending text messages to each other and we were showing support. It's something that obviously nobody expects."

Fernandez, who became a U.S. citizen last year, also was beloved for his stature in the Cuban community in Miami.

"He was a great humanitarian," Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman said through a translator. "He gave a lot to the community and I think that's why he got a lot of respect from the community in terms of what a great person he was and always giving, in terms of always willing to help out in whatever way he can to try to better and progress within the community someone that perhaps wasn't as fortunate as he was."

The 28-year-old Chapman lives in the Miami-area in the offseason. He said he spent some time with Fernandez while he was home.

"He would come by my house. I would go by his," Chapman said. "We would have long conversations. We would talk a lot. We spent a lot of good amount of time together. It was very special for me."

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

NEW YORK — The clubhouse mood following the Phillies17-0 loss to the Mets Sunday was somber, in part because of the disastrous game that had just wrapped up, but also because of the tragic news of Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

“It was rough. People are devastated. I didn’t even know him and I was crushed,” Phillies starter Jake Thompson said. “I can only imagine how that clubhouse feels. That’s something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, to deal with something of that magnitude.”

Both teams paused for a moment of silence before Sunday’s game and the Mets taped a jersey bearing Fernandez’s name and number onto their dugout wall.

“This morning, that was quite a surprise,” manager Pete Mackanin said of the atmosphere of the day. “I don’t think it affected the players once the game started. It was such bad news this morning that everybody was kind of melancholy.”

Fernandez had built a strong track record against the Phillies in his young career, amassing a 2.88 ERA in six starts.

“It’s kind of clich√© to say but you look at the start of his career and he could have been a Hall of Famer,” Thompson said.

Asked how he would remember facing Fernandez, Mackanin was succinct.

“He was a helluva pitcher,” he said.

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