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Rockies call up Alonso after hot stretch in minors

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WASHINGTON — Yonder Alonso has been brought up to the Colorado Rockies from Triple-A Albuquerque.

The 32-year-old was signed to a minor league contract on July 10, a week after he was released by the Chicago White Sox from a contract he signed with Cleveland. That deal guaranteed $9 million this season and included a $1 million buyout of a 2020 option.

Alonso hit .419 (13 for 31) in nine games for Albuquerque with three doubles, one triple, two home runs, and 12 RBI.

Colorado is the seventh big league team for Alonso. He has a .259 career batting average with 97 homers and 416 RBI. He hit .178 with seven homers and 27 RBI in 67 games for the White Sox this season.

Colorado designated right-handed pitcher Seunghwan Oh for assignment on Tuesday and optioned right-hander Yency Almonte to Albuquerque.

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Shohei Ohtani’s bullpen impresses new Angels pitching coach

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SAN DIEGO — Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has resumed throwing bullpen sessions, and new pitching coach Mickey Callaway is impressed.

Ohtani got back on the mound last week and pitched a bullpen in front of Callaway in Anaheim on Monday, general manager Billy Eppler told reporters at the winter meetings.

Eppler shared the contents of a text message he received from Callaway: “Shohei looked pretty darn good today. He does it very easy and we worked on some things in regards to his tempo. Everything synced up very well. I like this guy.”

Eppler said he didn’t know how many pitches Ohtani threw Monday but that he threw 25 during one session last week.

Ohtani had Tommy John surgery after the 2018 season and didn’t pitch in any games in 2019. He did start a throwing program last season, with bullpen sessions before certain games. He had season-ending surgery on his left knee in mid-September.

Ohtani was used as the designated hitter last season, batting .286 with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs in 425 plate appearances.

He was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts as a rookie in 2018. He also hit .285 with 22 home runs and and 61 RBIs.

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Theo Epstein confident in imminent Kris Bryant grievance ruling

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SAN DIEGO — Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein is confident in the pending outcome of star third baseman Kris Bryant‘s service time grievance and doesn’t believe it’s impacting any trade discussions for the team.

“We’re fairly confident in what the outcome is going to be, but the timing is a bit frustrating,” Epstein said from the winter meetings on Monday. “It would be nice to know. We’re at the winter meetings, and there hasn’t been a ruling. I understand these things take time. It’s not going to be more than a couple weeks away, but it would be nice to have that final confirmation.”

Bryant, whose name has surfaced in trade rumors this offseason, contends he should have started the 2015 season with the big league club, allowing him to become a free agent after the 2020 season. Instead, the team sent him to the minors out of spring training, then brought him up 10 days later due to an injury, allowing them to keep him an extra year and making him a free agent after the 2021 season. The union filed a grievance on Bryant’s behalf with the sides finally presenting their case this offseason.

If the arbiter rules in his favor, Bryant would be granted free agency after next year — immensely affecting his trade value.

“We’re operating with what our understanding of what the likely outcome will be and moving forward that way,” Epstein said. “I don’t think we look for the whole service time structure to be upended in any one ruling.”

The Cubs have vowed to make changes to their team, which features four key players up for free agency at the same time, after the 2021 season. Epstein said he won’t force anything but admitted some turnover might be in order after missing the playoffs in 2019 and losing out on the division the year before.

“We can benefit from some change in certain areas,” Epstein said. “There are a lot of promising leads [potential trades] out there.”

A decision on the grievance isn’t expected until the New Year, a source told ESPN.

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How next dominoes will fall after Stephen Strasburg’s record-breaking deal

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Moments after Michael Brantley swung through the last strike of the 2019 World Series, the reticent Stephen Strasburg struggled to hold back tears as he absorbed the Washington Nationals‘ standing as baseball champions, and in the handful of words he mustered, the pitcher referred to Washington, D.C., as home.

This was no small matter for a native of San Diego, for someone who would, within mere hours, opt out of the last years of his contract with the Nationals. Strasburg is serious, earnest and private — which is why Gerardo Parra and Anibal Sanchez targeted him for their dugout hugs — and so it made sense all along that Strasburg would work out a deal with the Nationals, where he can go about his business without having to worry about pleasing a new franchise, a new set of employers, a new fan base. He knows the Nationals and their fans, and they know and appreciate him, and now he and his family will be entrenched in Washington for the rest of his baseball life, at least.

Strasburg is home, and the dominoes of his decision will fall all over the place.

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