Bucs add 2 vets to roster

From Mirror, wire reports

BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Pirates made two important roster decisions on Saturday, announcing that outfielder Melky Cabrera and southpaw Francisco Liriano made the team for the upcoming season.

Since both players were in camp on minor league contracts, the Bucs still need to make room on their 40-man roster before Thursday’s season opener in Cincinnati.

As far as Grapefruit League action goes, Corey Dickerson went 2-for-4, which included a home run off starter Zach Eflin, as the Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-3, in a split-squad scrimmage.

Dickerson is hitting .424 this spring in 10 games. Francisco Cervelli added an RBI double for the Bucs, who got to see High Class A prospect Oneil Cruiz hit a solo home run off Eflin that cleared the stadium in right field. Lonnie Chisenhall also added an RBI single.

Starter Jordan Lyles survived a seven-hit, five-inning stint in which he gave up three earned runs. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out five. Reliever Keona Kela struck out two in one inning of work.

In the other game, Boston ace Chris Sale pitched five scoreless innings in a 12-3 win over the Pirates (14-14-2). The southpaw allowed two hits, struck out six and walked one.

Jameson Taillon started for the Pirates, allowing four runs and eight hits in four innings. Top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes hit his third home run of the spring — a three-run shot.

The Pirates play their final game in Florida today at 1:05 p.m. against Baltimore. Trevor Williams is expected to get the start. Pittsburgh will then fly to Houston for a two-game exhibition series against the Astros on Monday and Tuesday.

Elsewhere:

n The Chicago Cubs have optioned versatile youngster Ian Happ to the minor leagues. The 24-year-old Happ appeared in 142 games with Chicago last season, hitting .233 with 15 homers and a .761 OPS while playing second base, third base and all three outfield spots. He finished eighth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 after hitting .253 with 24 homers in 115 games. The 2015 first-round pick is batting .135 this spring with a .389 OPS. The demotion will allow the switch hitter to get regular playing time at Triple-A instead of being limited on Chicago’s deep major league roster.

n All-Star second baseman Scooter Gennett will miss the opening months of the season with a severe groin strain, costing the Cincinnati Reds one of their top hitters less than a week before opening day. Gennett injured the right side of his groin Friday while making a play on a groundball hit by Milwaukee’s Yasmani Grandal. He had an MRI, and the Reds said Saturday that he’s expected to miss two to three months. The injury forces the Reds to rearrange their infield — which had been one set area of the team — heading into the season opener Thursday against Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park. New manager David Bell plans to move shortstop Jose Peraza to second base and use newcomer Jose Iglesias at shortstop. In the last two years, Gennett has 50 homers and 189 RBIs.

n Paul Goldschmidt will be a St. Louis Cardinal through the 2024 season, St. Louis officially announced on Saturday. Goldschmidt and the Cardinals agreed on a five-year extension that will take effect following the 2019 season and pay $130 million. St. Louis acquired the slugging first baseman in a trade in December that sent pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly and minor leaguer Andy Miller to Arizona. St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said he originally expected to try to negotiate the deal during the season. But after learning a few weeks ago that Goldschmidt would be receptive to the idea, talks progressed faster than expected. A career .297 hitter with 209 homers, the 31-year-old is hitting .283 this spring. Both of his Grapefruit League homers have come in the last week.

n The New York Mets have cut five players from major league camp and informed catcher Devin Mesoraco that he won’t be on the opening day roster. The Mets re-assigned outfielders Carlos Gomez and Rajai Davis, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, and pitchers Ryan O’Rourke and Hector Santiago to minor league camp Saturday.

n Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros have agreed on a $66 million, two-year contract extension, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The agreement will keep the right-hander, who was entering the last year of his contract, in Houston through the 2021 season. The person spoke Saturday to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because details not had been released by the team. The agreement was first reported by KRIV-FOX 26.

The 36-year-old Verlander was traded from Detroit to Houston on Aug. 31, 2017, and helped the Astros win their first World Series that season. The 2011 American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner finished second in Cy Young voting last season after going 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA in 34 starts. He pitched 214 innings and his 290 strikeouts led the AL.

n Ace left-hander Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a new contract that guarantees an additional $145 million from 2020 to 2024. Sale has been an All-Star the last seven years and would have been eligible for free agency after this season. He is guaranteed $15 million this year under the second option year of the contract he signed with the Chicago White Sox before the 2013 season. The deal wound up to be worth $59 million over seven years plus award bonuses. The contract announced Saturday adds $30 million salaries annually from 2020-22 and $27.5 million a year in 2023 and 2024. Since he was acquired from Chicago in December 2016, Sale is 29-12 with a 2.56 ERA.

n Corey Kluber will start on opening day for the Cleveland Indians for the fifth consecutive season, matching a franchise record. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner was given the nod Saturday by manager Terry Francona. Stan Coveleski is the only other Cleveland pitcher to start five straight openers. Bob Feller holds the franchise mark with seven opening-day starts overall. Kluber is the first to earn five opening-day assignments with the Indians since CC Sabathia from 2003-08. Kluber was 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA last season, finishing third in Cy Young voting behind Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell and Houston’s Justin Verlander. He’ll take the ball Thursday at Minnesota. Kluber will lead a stacked rotation that also includes Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber.

n Veteran right-hander Jason Hammel is retiring even though he had been told by the Texas Rangers that he had made the team. The Rangers announced Hammel’s decision on Saturday, a day after the 36-year-old pitcher was informed he would be on the 25-man roster as a long reliever. He had gone to spring training on a minor league deal. Hammel said he wants to be home with his family. He was 96-114 with a 4.62 ERA while starting 298 of his 377 games over 13 seasons for six teams. He was 15-10 in 2016 for the World Series champion Chicago Cubs, but went 12-27 the past two years with the Royals.

n Rehabbing Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia will open the regular season on the 25-man roster so he can serve a five-game suspension stemming from last season before being placed on the injured list. Sabathia, retiring after the season, is expected to miss the first two or three turns through the rotation as he recovers from an offseason that included knee surgery and the insertion of a stent after a blockage was found in an artery from his heart. The Yankees will be short-handed for three games with Baltimore and a pair against Detroit while Sabathia serves the suspension for hitting Tampa Bay’s Jesus Sucre with a pitch in his last regular season start of 2018. Jonathan Loaisiga was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilke-Barre on Saturday but will be recalled for the sixth game on April 3 against the Tigers. Loaisiga is expected to start the game or enter after a reliever serves as an opener. Luis Cessa and Domingo German, who both competed for open rotation spots with Loaisiga, will be on the opening day roster. Boone said German will likely be the fourth starter, while Cessa will be a long reliever.

“That’s also something that’s fluid,” Boone said. “They’re all built up. That will be kind of week-by-week, rotation-by-rotation kind of thing.”

Gio Gonzalez, a two-time All-Star signed to a minor league contract this week for rotation depth, allowed five runs and four hits over two innings in a 7-3 loss Saturday to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“Maybe a tick off,” Gonzalez said. “A little more seasoning and I think I’ll be right where I want to be.”

Yankees ace Luis Severino is sidelined by right shoulder inflammation and will not be available until May at the earliest.

Opening day starter Masahiro Tanaka heads a rotation that includes James Paxton and J.A. Happ.

Tanaka gave up a hit and struck out three in two scoreless innings Saturday during his final tuneup before facing the Orioles on Thursday.

It will be his fourth opening day assignment, the most by a Japanese-born pitcher in major league history.

“I’m ready,” Tanaka said.

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