MLB Notes: Nationals trade Morse to Mariners

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MLB Notes: Nationals trade Morse to Mariners

The Mariners added some much-needed power to their lineup Wednesday, acquiring Michael Morse from Washington in a three-team deal that moved catcher John Jaso from Seattle to Oakland.

The NL East champion Nationals reacquired pitching prospect A.J. Cole, dealt from Washington to Oakland 13 months ago in the trade for Gio Gonzalez. Washington also got minor league pitcher Blake Treinen and a player to be named.

Morse hit .291 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs last year in an injury-shortened season, playing mostly as a corner outfielder. He was with the Mariners from 2005-08 before he was traded to the Nationals for Ryan Langerhans in June 2009.

"I'm just glad this whole thing has unfolded the way it has," Morse said on a conference call, noting he was aware he might be traded by Washington.

"I knew there were teams involved and I knew Seattle was one of them. That was one of the teams I was hoping for. I love it out there and I always felt like I had an unfinished-business feeling in Seattle. I never got to prove myself completely what kind of player I could be or who I am," he said.

The deal clears up a logjam in the outfield for Washington and at designated hitter for Seattle (see full story).

Jeter cleared for baseball activity
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter says he's been cleared to start baseball activity in his recovery from a broken left ankle.

The 38-year-old team captain reiterated Wednesday that he is on track to be in New York's starting lineup for the opener on April 1.

Jeter won't take the field for workouts until later this month. The 13-time All-Star said that is his normal pre-spring training routine.

"I've got the OK to start," Jeter said before a launch party for his Turn 2 Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic. "But I don't start until next week or the week after, anyway. In terms of baseball activity, I'm right where I need to be."

Jeter broke his ankle lunging for a grounder in Game 1 of the AL championship series against Detroit on Oct. 13. He had surgery a week later and the Yankees said recovery time would be four to five months (see full story).

Padilla signs with team in Japan
FUKUOKA, Japan -- Free-agent pitcher Vicente Padilla has signed with The Softbank Hawks of Japan's Pacific League.

The 35-year-old right-hander, who was 4-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 56 relief appearances for the Boston Red Sox last season, agreed to a 3.25 million, one-year contract with the Hawks, Kyodo news agency reported Thursday.

Padilla, born in Nicaragua, was a major league All-Star in 2002 with the Philadelphia Phillies when he went 14-11 with a 3.28 ERA.

He has also pitched for the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks during a 14-year big league career, going 108-91 with a 4.32 ERA.

The Hawks also signed former Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair to a 4.5 million, two-year contract in November (see full story).

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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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