Dodger pitcher dies


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FILE - In this April 13, 2015, file photo, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe acknowledges fans prior to a baseball game between the Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners, in Los Angeles. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

FILE - In this April 13, 2015, file photo, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe acknowledges fans prior to a baseball game between the Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners, in Los Angeles. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)


FILE - In this July 1, 2014, file photo, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe throws a ceremonial pitch before a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians, in Los Angeles. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)


FILE - This is a Feb. 28, 1951, file photo showing Brooklyn Dodgers baseball player Donald Newcombe in Vero Beach, Fla. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Harry Harris, File)


Former Dodgers great Don Newcombe dies at 92

Wednesday, February 20

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Don Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92.

The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning after a lengthy illness.

“Don Newcombe’s presence and life established him as a role model for Major Leaguers across the country,” Dodgers President Stan Kasten said. “He was a constant presence at Dodger Stadium, and players always gravitated to him for his endless advice and leadership. The Dodgers meant everything to him, and we are all fortunate he was a part of our lives.”

Newcombe, like Dodgers teammate Jackie Robinson, was signed by Branch Rickey from the Negro Leagues and went on to make a huge mark in the major leagues.

“Newk” was a fierce presence on the mound, a 6-foot-4 and 225-pound bear of a man who stared down hitters and backed up anyone foolish enough to crowd the plate.

He was a four-time All-Star and won 20 games three different times.

“Don Newcombe had a ton of talent and he was a great competitor,” former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who was a teammate of Newcombe’s, said in a statement. “He was a helluva pitcher and he was one of the best hitting pitchers I have ever seen.”

His greatest year was 1956 when he went 27-7 and won both the Cy Young Award, then only given to one pitcher for both leagues, and the National League MVP award.

“He was a powerhouse. I don’t think he really got enough credit for his overall performance,” said former teammate Carl Erskine. “He threw a fastball that had great location and a curveball that was a short, hard breaking pitch.”

Newcombe, Robinson and catcher Roy Campanella were a trio of black stars for the Dodgers who often supported each other.

“We came up with a strategy,” Newcombe later recalled. “We knew the impact we were attempting would have. We had to endure. (Robinson’s) character, his backbone, his guts — those were the keys. Jackie was the leader under Mr. Rickey.”

The three talked frequently, Campanella and Newcombe from the Dodgers’ Nashua, New Hampshire, farm team and Robinson from Brooklyn.

“We talked about how things were going,” Newcombe said. “What if somebody charged the mound on me? What would I do? Nobody did.

“I remember in the New England league, a catcher threw dirt in Roy’s face. He said, ‘If you do that again, I’ll personally take your arm out of its socket.’ They challenged us. They did anything they could to break down the idea.”

Newcombe’s Dodgers were perennial also-rans who specialized in winning the National League pennant then losing the World Series to the Yankees. Newcombe played on three pennant winners with the Dodgers and the World Series champions in 1955, the year they finally beat the Yankees.

Born June 14, 1926, in Madison, New Jersey, Newcombe pitched in the Negro Leagues starting in 1944 at age 18. In 1945 he had an 8-3 record with the Newark Eagles and won the attention of the Brooklyn Dodgers organization.

In 1989, at a reunion of Negro League greats, Newcombe gave a speech in Atlanta where he reflected on his experience.

“I wish that in some few words I could wipe away that pain you’ve suffered so long because you have skin this color,” he said. “We know that we would not be here today if it were not for the Negro Leagues. I thank God I had the chance to walk shoulder to shoulder with you.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Newcombe was a friend and mentor who had a great impact on his life.

“What he did for baseball, as being one of the first African-American players, his career with the Dodgers and how he impacted the organization,” Roberts said after spring training workouts in Glendale, Arizona. “Sharing stories about Jackie Robinson and his plight helped me and furthered my education on our history, so we lost a great man, a great Dodger today.”

When asked if he shares Newcombe’s history with current players, so they understand his accomplishments and his sacrifices, Roberts said, “Absolutely, Don was around a lot for games and he would spend time with our players individually and as a team. So, for his legacy to live on, through me, through other players is paramount.”

Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen was close with Newcombe and said he was at Jansen’s wedding.

“He’d always talk to me about how strong I have to be. He spoke to me a lot about mental toughness and physical preparation, running, conditioning. He’d say be aggressive out there. He kept me motivated,” Jansen said in a statement on Twitter. “He taught me about the history of the game. He talked to me about being a leader. He talked to me about being a good husband and a good father.”

Newcombe played in Nashua of the New England League and for teams in Montreal, Venezuela and Cuba before joining the parent club in 1949.

He went 17-8 in 1949, his first season with the Dodgers and was named NL Rookie of the Year.

Newcombe, Robinson and Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians became the first black players to appear in an All-Star game that season, when the Dodgers hosted the mid-season contest at Ebbets Field.

On July 8, 1949, Newcombe and Hank Thompson of the New York Giants became the first black pitcher and hitter to face each other in a major league game.

In 1950 Newcombe went 19-11, and in 1951 went 20-9, but he failed to win the season’s most important game. He was the starting pitcher in the decisive playoff series between the Dodgers and the Giants, and he held a 4-1 lead going into the ninth inning. But he gave up three hits to the first four batters and was replaced by Ralph Branca, who quickly achieved baseball infamy when Bobby Thomson lofted a pennant-winning home run, “the shot heard ‘round the world.”

Like many ballplayers of his generation, Newcombe lost some prime years to military service, giving the Army the 1952 and 1953 seasons. “Wait until next year” had become a virtual mantra in Brooklyn as the Dodgers won the National League title in 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953, only to lose the World Series every time.

Then came 1955, “the year next year finally came” in Brooklyn parlance.

The Dodgers finally beat the Yankees in the World Series and Newcombe went 20-5 during the regular season, winning 18 of his first 19 decisions. On the day of his 20th win he hit his seventh home run of the season, a National League record for a pitcher at the time.

But Newcombe always struggled in the postseason. He lost the first game of the 1955 series to the Yankees and was passed over in favor of Johnny Podres after preparing to pitch in Game 7. He was 0-4 with an 8.59 ERA in career World Series appearances.

In his MVP year of 1956, Newcombe became the first black pitcher to lead either league in wins. Brooklyn won another pennant that year, but lost the World Series to the Yankees in seven games, with Newcombe defeated in the final game.

Newcombe faded quickly after 1956 as he pitched for the transplanted Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians.

He had a brief resurgence for the Reds, going 13-8 with a 3.16 ERA in 1959.

In a 10-year major-league career he had a 149-90 record and a 3.56 ERA.

He pitched for Spokane, Washington, in the Pacific Coast League in 1961 and finished his professional career in Japan in 1962.

Alcoholism helped lead to his early retirement. He gave up drinking in later years and worked for drug and alcohol prevention programs. He continued working for the Dodgers, most recently as special adviser to the chairman.

He was a frequent presence at the stadium in recent years, always nattily attired in a suit and tie with a fedora atop his head.

He took part with Sandy Koufax in a first pitch ceremony before Game 7 of the 2017 World Series vs. Houston at Dodger Stadium and was at the park for last fall’s World Series vs Boston.

In 2011, Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander joined Newcombe as the second man to sweep the sport’s three major awards. Newcombe introduced Verlander at the following year’s Baseball Writers Association dinner.

Newcombe wasn’t elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, due mostly to his Army and alcohol-shortened career.

He kept virtually no memorabilia from his career. He sold his Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Cy Young trophies, along with his World Series ring, to filmmaker Spike Lee.

He pushed for greater pension rights for former Dodgers and promoted the idea of a national holiday to honor Jackie Robinson.

In 1968, Newcombe met with Martin Luther King Jr. just 28 days before the civil rights leader’s assassination. King had dinner at Newcombe’s home in Los Angeles before returning to Atlanta.

According to Newcombe, King told him, “Don, you’ll never know how easy you and Jackie and Doby and Campy made it for me to do my job by what you did on the baseball field.”

Newcombe outlived most of his Dodger teammates and was deeply affected when Campanella and Don Drysdale died within a week of each other in 1993.

“When tragic things happen, it gets the guts out of you,” he said at the time. “You try to be strong, but when those things happen, you break down and cry like a baby.”

Newcombe is survived by his wife, Karen Newcombe, son Don Newcombe Jr., daughter Kellye Roxanne Newcombe, son Brett Anthony Newcombe, grandchildren Cayman Newcombe and Riann Newcombe and stepson Chris Peterson.

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Derek Dietrich gets chance to compete for Reds’ bench role

By GARY SCHATZ

Associated Press

Wednesday, February 20

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Derek Dietrich didn’t have a team after the Miami Marlins designated him for assignment in November. The utility player has wound up with a team from his home state, getting a chance to earn a role off the bench.

Dietrich agreed to a minor league deal on Tuesday with the Cincinnati Reds, who plan to carry four players on the bench. The 29-year-old Dietrich will get an opportunity to win one of those spots in camp.

His versatility made him attractive to the Reds, who could use another reserve infielder. Dietrich also has played outfield.

“One of his strengths is he can move around. He can play second base. He plays some first base, third base, corner outfield,” manager David Bell said. “I’ve seen him play a lot, but we haven’t mapped out plan for what positions he is going to play. We will move him around enough he’ll be able to adapt.”

Dietrich grew up in the Cleveland area. His grandfather, Steve Demeter, played for the Tigers and the Indians in 1959-60. Cleveland is only a four-hour drive from Cincinnati, which made the opportunity more attractive.

“Maybe I can go home on an off-day,” he said.

Houston drafted him in the third round in 2007 out of St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, but he chose to play baseball at Georgia Tech. Tampa Bay drafted him in the second round in 2010 and traded him to the Marlins in 2012 for Yunel Escobar. He made his major league debut a year later.

Dietrich appeared in a career-high 149 games last season, batting .265 with a career-high 16 homers and 45 RBIs. He played 97 games in left field, 33 at first base, and split the rest of his time between second base, third base, right field and DH.

“I’ve made a profession being able to play all over the diamond,” he said. “I’m sure that’s how I’m going to be utilized initially here.”

The Reds’ starting infield is set with first baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Scooter Gennett, shortstop Jose Peraza and third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Dietrich is among a group that includes Alex Blandino, Blake Trahan, Christian Colon, Kyle Farmer and Connor Joe competing for bench spots.

As spring training approached and Dietrich didn’t have a job, he wasn’t sure what possibilities would open. He was glad to get an offer from the Reds that includes a $2 million base salary and up to $500,000 in performance bonuses if he makes the major league team. He got $2.9 million with the Marlins last season.

“It was a little unexpected, anytime you go through something new,” Dietrich said. “For me, it was staying ready, being patient and finding the best fit. I’m happy to be here. I’m playing in my home state for the first time.”

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After veteran salaries drop, baseball players want change

By RONALD BLUM

AP Baseball Writer

Thursday, February 21

NEW YORK (AP) — Neil Walker’s salary dropped from $17.2 million to $2 million in two years. Greg Holland was cut from $14 million to $2 million this season. Daniel Murphy fell from $17.5 million to $10 million.

While Manny Machado agreed to a pending $300 million, 10-year contract with San Diego and Bryce Harper is likely to top Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325 million, 13-year deal, many less-than-superstar veterans have been routed on the free-agent market.

Players want change, and management could be open to negotiations for alterations to the collective bargaining agreement as part of an extension of the current deal, set to expire in December 2021.

“It’s really clear there’s been a redistribution of how clubs are looking at veteran players,” agent Scott Boras said Wednesday. “We have a clear problem in the industry of a non-competitive cancer. Like any patient with a malady, we have to address it immediately. Otherwise it is going to get steadily worse.”

Of the 111 announced agreements among the 164 players who exercised their free-agency rights after the World Series, 36 were for minor league contracts and 26 were one-year deals for less than last year’s average salary of just over $4 million.

In all, 46 players got one-year contracts, 19 two-year deals and seven three-year agreements. Just three longer contracts for free agents have been announced: left-hander Patrick Corbin’s $140 million, six-year deal with Washington, outfielder A.J. Pollock’s $60 million, five-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and pitcher Nathan Eovaldi’s $68 million, four-year package with Boston.

Clubs are replacing veterans with younger players earning at or near the $555,000 minimum who lack the roughly 2 2/3 years of major league service needed to be eligible for salary arbitration. In the age of analytics, cheaper may not be better, but often it’s not much worse.

“All veteran players of a certain age are being affected by this analysis, which is not just widespread but fairly consistent across most clubs,” said former New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, now an Oakland Athletics senior adviser. “The math is the math.”

Spending on big league payrolls dropped last season for the first time since 2010, an $18 million fall to $4.23 billion, according to figures compiled by the commissioner’s office and obtained by The Associated Press. While the decrease was attributable to drug and domestic violence suspensions and a player retiring at midseason, payrolls were otherwise flat, unusual for a sport with rising revenue.

Team behavior changed following a new collective bargaining agreement, which imposed a higher luxury tax on big spenders. The New York Yankees dropped under the tax threshold last year for the first time since 2003 and the Dodgers for the first time since 2012. Neither showed great interest in Harper or Machado.

“Isn’t it odd that all 30 teams have gone younger and cheaper rather than older and better?” agent Jay Reisinger said. “It’s more than a coincidence that guys remain unsigned. Clubs are treating the tax threshold as a salary cap. If you look at the salary-cap sports, it is most often the middle-class that gets squished.”

In addition to Harper, Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Gonzalez and Gio Gonzalez were still on the market on the eve of the exhibition opener scheduled for Thursday.

And many of those who have signed got deals for a fraction of their initial hopes. Mike Moustakas turned down a $17.4 million qualifying offer from Kansas City after the 2017 season and returned to the Royals in mid-March for a one-year contract that included a guaranteed $6.5 million. He was traded to Milwaukee during the summer, earned $2.2 million in bonuses and became a free agent again. He stayed with the Brewers for a one-year deal guaranteeing $10 million — raising his two-year total to just $1.3 million more than the one-year contract he turned down 15 months ago.

“It was nice to see Manny come off the board yesterday, but ultimately it’s a lot more than one player,” said reliever Andrew Miller, who left Cleveland for a $25 million, two-year contract with St. Louis. “Even the guys that are getting deals that they’re happy with, the timing of it is unique compared to what we saw in the past. It used to be a couple guys maybe played the long game. Now it seems like a lot of guys have no choice. The stories that we hear when guys show up to camp is that they had no offers.”

Players are ready to go to war over WAR. Teams compare the Wins Above Replacement of veterans against rookies. In addition, data shows older players spent more time on the disabled list.

The system since 1976 has been based on seniority. Clubs control the salaries of young players, those with roughly three-to-six years of service are eligible for arbitration and those with more than six are free. For decades, many players in the second half of their careers had deals that reflected earlier production more than their current output.

“There has been an explosion in data, and when you have more data you have fewer gaps that require some intuitive or subjective assessment,” Alderson said. “The second aspect of this is people running clubs are all exposed to the same data, and the data is only minimally subject to interpretation.”

Data also is causing teams to shed veterans during the offseason in favor of rebuilding. The cost of amateurs residing in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada was capped in the labor contract that started ahead of the 2012 season and the price of international amateurs was capped before the 2017 season.

Boras, whose top free-agent clients include Harper and Keuchel, suggests adding wild-card teams, so more teams try to compete later into the season.

“There is a clear evidence of tanking in our industry,” he said. “Clubs are choosing to lose and tank and the decrease in competition for the better teams does not require them to be as good. So they have less incentive to build the depth of their roster.”

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred maintains all teams are trying to win, though some have a longer-term vision of success. Boras says stripped-down rosters have been the cause of three straight years of attendance drops — to under a 30,000 average for the first time since 2003.

“I’m not saying that every team has to serve steak, but I’ll tell you what, fans of this game love to go to the ballpark and have a good hamburger,” Boras said. “And that means that they know their team can beat another team every time. But when you walk in there and you’re serving essentially stale, less-than-quality meat, fans aren’t going to come, and the evidence has shown they won’t.”

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Manfred: Slow market may be ‘much ado about nothing’

By JOHN MARSHALL

AP Sports Writer

Wednesday, February 20

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred predicts top free agents will all get deals and the second slow free-agent market won’t have lasting significance.

“In some ways I feel like it’s a little much ado about nothing if in fact those players all sign at the end of the day,” he said Tuesday. “The season’s going to go on. We’re going to have the right players out there playing on the field, and it’s kind of no harm, no foul.”

Manny Machado agreed hours earlier to a $300 million, 10-year deal with San Diego, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was subject to a successful physical.

Machado’s deal is a record for a free agent and the second-largest in baseball history behind Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million, 13-year contract.

Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain on the market just ahead of the start of spring training games this week. Throughout the major leagues, players have criticized teams for not spending to land top available stars and started to push for significant changes in the collective bargaining agreement, which runs through the 2021 season.

“I do think are a little overblown right now,” Manfred said. “I do think it would be helpful if we tried to not sensationalize the back and forth on the individual issues. I think that the dialogue is best conducted in a room between the bargaining parties.”

Management has proposed on-field changes, such as a pitch clock and limits on relief pitchers. Union head Tony Clark and his members would like the designated hitter to expand to the National League and changes to the amateur draft to make rebuilding through the draft less attractive. They have criticized teams for failing to try to win now, and Clark on Monday questioned whether some teams justify the cost of their tickets.

“I would urge Tony and the players to save what they had to say for the bargaining table, where we can hear it directly and we can address it and hopefully reach a positive solution for the industry,” Manfred said. “I don’t think it really helps to subject our fans to all this back and forth.”

He defended the rules of the current labor contract,

“We bargained for a market system. We have smart, aggressive negotiators on both sides. A completely predictable tactic is to use timing as a point of leverage in those negotiations on both sides,” he said. “It’s not like this is some unexpected result.”

Manfred said there had been a split of opinion on whether rules changes are needed to counter offense-suffocating defensive shifts.

“I think there is substantial sentiment within the game for the idea that eliminating the shifts, or limiting the amount of shifting that could be done, might be a positive for the game,” he said. “There is another group, however, who believes that the game will self-adjust in response to the shift and that we’re better off leaving it alone. We’re in the process of trying to get a consensus between ourselves and the players’ association as to how to best handle that issue.”

Management made the unilateral decision to experiment with pitch clocks during spring training and has the right to order them for the regular season but prefers to reach an agreement with the union.

Asked that he would like to see in five years, Manfred mentioned expansion.

“I would like baseball to be in the midst of exploring whether we could get to 32 teams either by adding additional teams in the United States but also open to the idea of Canada, Mexico as possibilities,” he said. “I think 32 opens up the opportunity for a substantial rethinking of our format and postseason format, meaning realignment, as well as reconstruction of divisions. Maybe even geographical realignment.”

He said management and the union continue to discuss how to handle service time for young players. There remains a pending grievance over the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant, who was brought up in 2015 on the day his free-agent eligibility was pushed back from after the 2020 season to after 2021. There has been speculation Toronto will act similarly this year with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“Clubs have always — and it should be this way — had the right to decide who’s going to be on their roster at a particular point in time,” Manfred said. “It’s hard to figure out a mechanism that you can impose on top of that really fundamental right that gets you to the result that you may want to achieve.”

He praised the use of relief pitchers as openers by Tampa Bay and Oakland last year but said lesser prominence for starting pitchers, often used by teams for marketing, is a concern.

“They’re thinking outside the box, they’re innovating and in most businesses, innovation is seen as a good thing,” he said. “It is an example of smaller-market clubs trying to put themselves in a position to be as competitive as possible.”

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AP source: Machado, Padres agree to $300M, 10-year deal

By BERNIE WILSON

AP Sports Writer

Wednesday, February 20

SAN DIEGO (AP) — With their city’s long-suffering fans desperate for a winner, the rebuilding San Diego Padres delivered their splashiest free agent signing ever by agreeing with All-Star infielder Manny Machado on a $300 million, 10-year deal.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement was subject to a successful physical and had not been announced. Machado can opt out after five years and become a free agent again, the person said.

Machado’s agreement would be the second-largest in baseball history behind Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million, 13-year deal signed with the Miami Marlins ahead of the 2015 season. It would be the highest deal for a free agent, topping Alex Rodriguez’s $275 million, 10-year contract with the New York Yankees from 2008-17.

More records may be broken soon. Free agent outfielder Bryce Harper could top Stanton’s deal in coming days or weeks.

That won’t matter a bit to Padres fans, who have never celebrated a World Series title and were keeping their fingers crossed in recent days as it became apparent that their team, with a mostly sad-sack history stretching back a half-century, actually had a chance at landing Machado, who is only 26.

Some fans seemed braced for yet another disappointment. But news of the deal was greeted with euphoria on social media.

Speaking at spring training in Peoria, Arizona, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler declined to confirm the deal, saying: “We do not have a deal with any free agent player. We are continuing discussions, and that’s all we have to say.”

Teams draw a distinction between an agreement subject to a physical and a finalized deal.

While Fowler looked serious, general partner Peter Seidler couldn’t help but smile while waiting for his turn to speak.

Without confirming the deal, Seidler — a nephew of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley — spoke of what his ownership group wants to bring to San Diego, where the Padres play in a gem of a ballpark just off the bay.

“Ron and I, we love the city of San Diego, we love sports in San Diego, but we’re also well aware of the history. There’s never been a championship from a major sports franchise in San Diego. … We as an organization want to completely change that. We want our franchise to win year after year after year. And we’re going to do whatever we can rationally do to help make that happen.”

The Padres lost 96 games last year, haven’t had a winning season since 2010 and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006. They haven’t won a playoff series since the 1998 NL Championship against Atlanta. They were routed in their two World Series appearances, by Detroit in 1984 and the New York Yankees in 1998.

And they’ve had the city’s big league sports scene to themselves since the NFL’s Chargers moved to the Los Angeles area two seasons ago. The Chargers did win the AFL title in 1963 but were blown out by San Francisco in their only Super Bowl appearance, after the 1994 season.

Other than the AFL title, the biggest championships won around here were probably Little League World Series titles in 2009 by Park View of Chula Vista and in 1961 by El Cajon-La Mesa Northern, which included Brian Sipe, who won the NFL’s MVP Award in 1980.

Padres players were ecstatic, even though the signing was not yet official.

Catcher Austin Hedges was headed toward bunting drills when he heard the news. He pumped his fists and said, “I’m just that excited about bunting.”

“You see me smiling right here,” said first baseman Eric Hosmer, who exactly a year ago earlier finalized a $144 million, eight-year deal with San Diego. “We’ve all been practicing today, obviously. We’ve all kind heard what’s been going on, and all we can say is he’s a guy we’d love to have, and I think it changes things pretty quickly if we do have him here.

“He’s one of the top guys in the league,” Hosmer added. “Obviously extremely young free agent that’s got a lot of amazing baseball left in him and he’s already had a lot of amazing baseball in his career. We’re all just glad he’ll hopefully be here with us in San Diego.”

The Padres have been rebuilding mostly via their top-rated farm system since a failed win-now approach with high-priced veterans in 2015.

Machado is expected to fill the team’s glaring need at third base. He began last year at shortstop with Baltimore, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the All-Star break and split time and shortstop and third. He struck out to end the World Series loss to Boston.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said the deal, if it goes through, is “a great thing. The Padres were active last year in the free-agent market, obviously a big signing with Eric Hosmer. This would be another one, if in fact that’s what happened. And I think it’s good for baseball to have big stars present in some of our smaller markets and see those markets really being out there willing to compete for the best talent.”

With Machado on board, the next big move for the Padres, whether by opening day or later in the season, is expected to be the promotion of shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the 20-year-old son of a former big leaguer and the No. 2 overall prospect in baseball.

A four-time All-Star, Machado hit .297 last year and set career bests with 37 homers and 107 RBIs. A four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, he has a .282 career average with 175 homers and 513 RBIs in seven big league seasons.

The Chicago White Sox offered $250 million for eight years, a person familiar with that proposal said. That person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the club did not publicly disclose its offer. The White Sox were trying to get in position for a second title under owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who turns 83 next week.

“Still in a bit of disbelief,” executive vice president Kenny Williams said. “I feel we put our best foot forward. Jerry, in particular, really stepped up.”

Machado also met with the Yankees, a team that had expressed concern over Machado’s remarks about hustling — not hustling, actually — during the playoffs.

After failing to run out a grounder in the NL Championship Series, Machado said: “Obviously I’m not going to change, I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle’ and run down the line and slide to first base.”

Machado tried to clarify his remarks after the season, saying, “looking back, it doesn’t come across how I meant it.”

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner took notice of Machado’s initial comments, labeling them “troubling” and added, “That ain’t going to sell where we play baseball.”

No worries. Padres fans will take him.

AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum, AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen, and AP freelance writers Jack Thompson and Weston DeWitt contributed to this report.

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Moustakas has unfinished business in Milwaukee

By ANDREW WAGNER

Associated Press

Wednesday, February 20

PHOENIX (AP) — Mike Moustakas fell one win shy of reaching the World Series with the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I think we had some unfinished business after last year,” Moustakas said Tuesday after finalizing a $10 million, one-year deal with the Brewers. “I loved playing here last year. It was a lot of fun. We fell a little bit short, obviously, but I feel like this team can get back to where we were at last year and make a push for the World Series.”

After Milwaukee won the NL Central for the first time since 2011, Brewers chairman Mark Attanasio and his front office have boosted payroll to a team-record of nearly $130 million. They added catcher Yasmani Grandal for an $18.25 million, one-year deal last month and then made the surprise move to keep Moustakas.

“Our ownership group is committed to providing the resources to do the best absolutely job we can,” Attanasio said. “I’m very excited for what this team can do this year.”

Moustakas gets a $7 million salary this year under the deal, which includes an $11 million mutual option for 2020 with a $3 million buyout.

He rejected a $17.4 million qualifying offer from Kansas City after the 2017 season and returned to the Royals in mid-March for a one-year contract that included a guaranteed $6.5 million, then earned an additional $2.2 million in performance bonuses.

The infielder hit .256 with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 54 games for Milwaukee, which acquired him from the last-place Royals on July 27. A 30-year-old left-handed hitter, Moustakas had a .251 average overall with 28 homers and 95 RBIs last year. He struck out for the final out of the NL Championship Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Once that contract’s signed, I’m ready to go to work,” Moustakas said. “This is what I live for, this is why I play this game — to come out here and hang out with these guys and go win a championship. I can’t wait to get back on the field and start doing that again.”

Attanasio and general manager David Stearns did not indicate how much flexibility the Brewers had to add payroll as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.

“We certainly got a little more aggressive this year in free agency than we probably anticipated at the front end of the offseason but that was due to the opportunities presented to us,” Stearns said. “We may have to take that into account in July, but we’ll see where we are at that point and make our plans then.”

Attanasio has never shied away from spending when his team is in a position to make a significant improvement. Should the Brewers need help come July, he plans to be ready.

“The chips are all in now,” he said. “But we’ll find the money at midseason if we need to.”

In addition to his base salary, Moustakas would earn $100,000 for winning the Most Valuable Player Award, $75,000 if he finishes second, $50,000 for third, $50,000 for making an All-Star team, winning a Silver Slugger, Comeback Player of the Year, the Hank Aaron Award or the World Series MVP, and $25,000 for a Gold Glove or the League Championship Series MVP.

More AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Mariano Rivera calls child support allegations ‘unfounded’

Wednesday, February 20

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Just weeks after becoming baseball’s first unanimous Hall of Fame selection, Mariano Rivera is defending himself from accusations in his native Panama that he has failed to support two children he had outside his marriage.

The former New York Yankees’ closer on Tuesday called the demands filed against him in the Central American country “unfounded.”

“I have always acted … as a good family father,” the 49-year-old told local media.

Rivera’s comments came as he is being asked to appear before Panamanian judicial authorities to answer accusations that he has failed to fulfill his obligations to support the boy and girl, ages 11 and 15.

“He came to clean up his image before the media, instead of notifying authorities and facing the process” against him, said Yovany Wyznick Ortega, a lawyer for the children’s mother.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Ortega alleged that Rivera and the children had “always shared” but that the former player stopped seeing them and “abandoned” them two years ago.

“He stopped paying for things for his children and put them in an economically critical situation,” she said.

The lawyer said Rivera faces five suits filed several months ago. She said that if he does not appear before judicial authorities, she will ask that he be prevented from leaving the country.

Little was known of the accusations against him until Feb. 11, when reports that a hearing called by Rivera’s attorneys did not take place began appearing in local media.

Rivera lives in New York but was back in Panama on Tuesday. He gave an unexpected radio interview, then appeared before local media with his lawyers and offered a brief written statement.

“It is true that I face demands in the courts, all without foundation, which are affecting my children whom I love with all my heart,” the statement said.

Rivera is married and has three children from the marriage.

In late January, Panamanians celebrated when Rivera became baseball’s first unanimous Hall of Fame selection and only the second Panamanian selected to the hall. The other is Rod Carew.

Rivera is baseball’s career saves leader with 652 in regular season play, and he had 42 more in postseason games.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

FILE – In this April 13, 2015, file photo, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe acknowledges fans prior to a baseball game between the Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners, in Los Angeles. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122361384-b67bc7518528402f9b49ebef9654c572.jpgFILE – In this April 13, 2015, file photo, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe acknowledges fans prior to a baseball game between the Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners, in Los Angeles. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

FILE – In this July 1, 2014, file photo, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe throws a ceremonial pitch before a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians, in Los Angeles. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122361384-21fb5504c37e41788c15c8a48cb3ec6e.jpgFILE – In this July 1, 2014, file photo, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe throws a ceremonial pitch before a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians, in Los Angeles. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

FILE – This is a Feb. 28, 1951, file photo showing Brooklyn Dodgers baseball player Donald Newcombe in Vero Beach, Fla. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Harry Harris, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122361384-c53d9adc2cb9474c86eb754b046bd68c.jpgFILE – This is a Feb. 28, 1951, file photo showing Brooklyn Dodgers baseball player Donald Newcombe in Vero Beach, Fla. Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92. The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning, Feb. 19, 2019, after a lengthy illness. (AP Photo/Harry Harris, File)
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