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Indians’ Mike Clevinger has knee surgery, out 6-8 weeks



Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Friday and won’t return to baseball activities for 6 to 8 weeks, the team announced.

The right-hander partially tore his meniscus Wednesday during a spring training workout at the team’s facility in Goodyear, Arizona.

Clevinger, 29, avoided arbitration this offseason by reaching a $4.1 million deal with Cleveland. He went 13-4 with a 2.71 ERA in 21 starts in 2019, and is being counted on to be a key part of the rotation after the Indians traded two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber.

He has won 38 games over the past three seasons. He made 21 starts in 2019, but missed time early in the year with a strained back muscle.

Cleveland on Friday also signed free agent Domingo Santana to a $1.5 million contract that includes a $5 million club option for 2021. The outfielder, who made $1.95 million with the Seattle Mariners last season, had a promising start to 2019 before missing 24 games in August and September with an injured right elbow.

Santana appeared in 121 games and hit .253 with 21 homers and 69 RBIs.

Prior to signing with the Mariners, Santana spent three-plus seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. His breakthrough season came in 2017, when he hit 30 home runs with 85 RBIs, 88 runs and 15 stolen bases for the Brewers.

Since entering the majors in 2014, Santana has a career .259 batting average with 75 home runs and 232 RBIs.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Nats’ Mike Rizzo not satisfied with Astros’ apology, says ‘they cheated’



WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Count Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo among those not impressed or satisfied by the Houston Astros‘ attempts to apologize for — and put behind them — their sign-stealing scandal.

“They cheated. They were found guilty of it. And I haven’t heard it yet,” Rizzo said Friday after Washington’s second formal workout at the spring training complex the team shares with Houston.

“The thing that pains me the most is it puts a black cloud over the sport that I love. And that’s not right. The commissioner did an investigation and found that they cheated in 2017 and 2018. Somebody’s got to say the words over there: ‘cheated.’ And that’s important to me,” Rizzo said. “For the sport to move on, which is what I’m most concerned about, we have to make sure that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed on this investigation before we end it.”

Rizzo’s NL champ Nationals went into last year’s World Series prepared to deal with against-the-rules actions by the AL champ Astros before beating them in Game 7 for the title.

“I have no proof of what, if anything, they did in 2019,” Rizzo said. “We assumed they were, and we prepared diligently for it.”

World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg said the Nationals used new catcher’s signals and changed them during games, so if Houston had been trying to steal signs in October, there wouldn’t be anything from his past outings that could be relied on.

“Regardless of if there was any funny business going on, we controlled what we could control, we were prepared for it, and we did what was necessary to go out there and make it as even a playing field as possible,” Strasburg said.

Rizzo and Strasburg said people from other teams reached out to the Nationals as soon as it was known their opponent in the Fall Classic would be the Astros.

“We got a lot of volunteer phone calls on how to beat them and how to play them,” Rizzo said.

Noted Strasburg: “The league is a lot smaller than you think.”

Last month, commissioner Rob Manfred punished Houston for using a video feed to view and decode opposing catchers’ signs during the 2017 — when the team won the championship — and 2018 seasons. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what pitch was coming, believing it would improve the chances of getting a hit.

Rizzo made a point of saying the Astros “cheated to win the World Series.”

Houston’s manager, AJ Hinch, and GM, Jeff Luhnow, were suspended by Manfred for a year and immediately fired by the club.

“I know for a fact that could not and would not happen with the Washington Nationals, because I would not allow it to happen with the Washington Nationals,” Rizzo said. “So we certainly take pride in that, the way we conduct our business and our process, and we try and do things the right way for the good of the game in its entirety.”

Told of the general nature of Rizzo’s comments Friday, Astros pitcher Brad Peacock said: “I don’t know how to answer that. All I know is we’re moving forward, looking forward to next year. And everybody spoke yesterday about it. And I agree with everything they said.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Josh Hader loses to Brewers, says arbitration model ‘outdated’ for relievers



PHOENIX — Baseball’s arbitration model for relief pitchers is broken, Milwaukee closer Josh Hader said Friday after losing his case against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Hader will earn $4.1 million rather than his $6.4 million request, a decision that dropped players to 1-6 in hearings this year. Arbitrators Mark Burstein, Dan Brent and Fredric Horowitz made the decision, a day after hearing arguments.

“We’re in a unique position, the way we’re used as relievers nowadays,” Hader said. “I think the system’s just outdated on how we’re used. We’re mostly being used for lineups, not innings.”

While teams used to have set roles for pitchers in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, computer programs now determine which matchups in the batting order are best for which pitcher.

“We’re going to a new part where guys are pitching in situations that could come in the fourth inning and you’re facing the middle of the lineup to get maybe out of a jam,” Hader said.

Hader made his big league debut in June 2017 and was used in 2018 as multi-inning reliever who often bridged the gap between the starter and hard-throwing right-handers Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel.

When Knebel sustained an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery last year and Jeffress battled ineffectiveness and injury, the shaggy-haired left-hander moved into the closer’s role and converted 37 of 44 save opportunities while going 3-5 with a 2.62 ERA. He earned his second straight All-Star selection.

He failed to hold a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning of the NL wild-card game, loading the bases by hitting one batter, walking another and allowing a bloop single, then giving up a two-out, bases-loaded single to Washington’s Juan Soto that scored three runs. The Nationals won 4-3 and went on to their first World Series title.

After making $687,600 last year when his contract was renewed, Hader just made the arbitration eligibility cutoff with 2 years, 115 days of major league service.

General manager David Stearns detected “no hard feelings” in a conversation with Hader ahead of the decision.

“Josh said he wants to help us win a World Series,” Stearns said.

Teams also beat Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, Minnesota pitcher Jose Berrios, Atlanta reliever Shane Greene and Colorado catcher Tony Wolters.

Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez has been the lone player to win.

Seven players, including Brewers left-hander Brent Suter, remain scheduled for hearings, which run through Feb. 21.

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‘It’s just like ripping open a scab’ — Dodgers’ sign-stealing anger bursts through



GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dave Roberts was watching his players throw bullpen sessions and conduct batting practice while members of the 2017 Houston Astros stumbled through pre-arranged apologies on Thursday morning. Later, while addressing an eager media contingent, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager struck a distinct tone — he was done talking about what may or may not have occurred three World Series ago, and he was ready to move on with the 2020 season. “Our story,” Roberts said, “is moving forward.”

The following morning, before the team’s first official workout of spring training, it was clear that many of Roberts’ players were not done venting, grieving and, in many ways, processing how the Astros might have unfairly beaten them in the championship round.

Cody Bellinger, one of the game’s brightest young stars, went scorched earth on the Astros, saying Jose Altuve “stole” the 2017 MVP from Aaron Judge and that he “lost respect” for that team. Justin Turner, one of the Dodgers’ clubhouse leaders, ridiculed Astros owner Jim Crane for initially stating that his club’s sign-stealing methods “didn’t impact the game.” Alex Wood, who had the foresight to constantly change the sign sequences while starting Game 5 of the 2017 World Series from Minute Maid Park in Houston, said he wouldn’t be surprised if several opposing pitchers threw at Astros hitters this season.

Clayton Kershaw, who might have been among the most directly impacted by the cheating scandal, admitted that he doesn’t know what to think.

“Us in this clubhouse, we’re all going to handle it differently,” Kershaw said. “And I think that’s awesome that everybody’s gonna answer these questions differently. Everybody’s gonna be honest about it, everybody’s gonna move on in their own way, and I think that’s really cool. I think as a team, we can all be individual in how we handle it, and then come together as a team after it and be ready to go. I think the script of this, of what happened in Houston yesterday, it didn’t seem as genuine. And I think over here, you’re gonna feel the genuineness of what we feel. And we’re going to move on a little bit easier from it, I think.”

The process is ongoing, the sentiments scattered. Kershaw believes adding a former MVP in Mookie Betts and a former Cy Young Award winner in David Price — essentially shaking up the core group, an approach Roberts has long believed to be important — “really helps bring a new excitement to this season.”

Turner wasn’t so sure.

“It’s just like ripping open a scab,” Turner said of constant revelations about the Astros’ methods. “It rehashes some things, and you go back, think what if, what happened. And that’s just going to drive us crazy if we continue to do that. You just gotta let them deal with it however they deal with it. Everyone’s gonna have their opinion, everyone’s gonna treat them however they feel necessary. Lucky for us, we don’t play them this year. So we don’t even have to worry about them. The rest of the league can deal with them.”

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Ross Stripling was recently almost traded to the Los Angeles Angels, an American League West team that will open its season at Minute Maid Park and is scheduled to play the Astros 17 other times. He was asked if he would have taken it upon himself to throw at Astros hitters if that had been the case.

“I would lean toward yes,” Stripling said after some thought. “In the right time, and in the right place.”

Wood alluded to a fascinating dilemma with that approach.

“Somebody will take it into their own hands, and they’ll get suspended more games than any of those guys got for the biggest cheating scandal in 100 years,” he said. “It’ll be pretty ironic when that happens, because I’m sure that’s how it’ll end up playing out.”

A group chat began with basically every member of the 2017 Dodgers team that lost to the Astros in seven World Series games shortly after Bregman and Altuve were unrepentant during the team’s fan fest around the middle of January. It was initially an effective outlet for some of the affected players, but the onslaught of text messages eventually died down. As the weeks progressed and spring training approached, some of those players identified their own purpose within the sign-stealing scandal.

Wood, among the most vocal on Twitter, has taken it upon himself to educate fans on why stealing signs the way the Astros did was such a big deal.

“When guys know what’s coming, it’s a whole different ballgame,” Wood said. “This is a game, but it’s also a lot of guys’ lives. It’s how they feed their families.”

Stripling pinpointed a goal — to ensure that the stigma of all this doesn’t die.

“One of the worst things that could happen is that we get through spring and it’s just forgotten about, or that you get pegged for the first two games and it’s just forgotten about,” Stripling said. “It needs to be reiterated.”

In that vein, several Dodgers will attempt to strike a difficult balance — of making sure the extent of the Astros’ crimes is not forgotten, but also ensuring that it isn’t a constant source of internal consternation throughout their pursuit of an elusive World Series championship. They’ll all navigate it differently.

On Friday, the Dodgers seemed consistent with one thought — that the Astros’ apology was not good enough.

Stripling thought it was “as bad as it can be.” Turner, like many others, didn’t go out of his way to watch it, but did catch Crane’s statement, which he later walked back, and said: “It’s mind-boggling to me that you had that much time to prepare for this and you had to retract the first thing you said in the statement.”

“That’s just wild,” Bellinger said when asked of Crane saying the Astros’ sign stealing “didn’t impact the game.” “I don’t know if he meant to say that or not, but that’s obviously not true.”

“To be honest, I don’t know what to think anymore,” Kershaw added. “Some of those guys seemed remorseful. Some of those guys said the right things, gave a good apology, and that’s great. We’ll move on with that. And then you get the owner up there saying some dumb stuff, and it’s like, ‘What’s going on? How can you be that ignorant to the situation?”

In the midst of his comments, Bellinger brought up how he just met Betts and Price and how excited that made him about what awaits. Turner struck a similar tone, acknowledging that the pain of the 2017 World Series would never vanquish while also expressing the importance of moving on from it.

He hopes others will follow.

“Obviously when you start talking about the beginning of spring training, there’s more opportunities for players to voice their thoughts, and there’s media that wants answers, which is completely fair,” Roberts said. “But I do think that once we get going, it’s got to be in the past. I think that they’re aware of that.”

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