Bucs sign veteran OF to minor deal

From Mirror, wire reports

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to terms on a minor league contract with outfielder Melky Cabrera Monday, which includes an invitation to big league camp.

The 34-year-old Cabrera began the 2018 campaign with Triple-A Columbus after signing with Cleveland as a minor league free agent on April 25. He had two different stints with the Indians last season, where he hit .280 (70-for-250) with 17 doubles, six home runs and 39 RBI overall in 78 games.

During his second stint with the Cleveland that began on July 20, he hit .302 (58-for-192) with 12 doubles, six home runs and 28 RBI over the final 61 games of the season.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cabrera ranks first among all active switch hitters in RBI (807) and second in hits (1856) and doubles (361). His 118 outfield assists are also the second-most among active players behind Ichiro Suzuki (123).

The 2012 All-Star and All-Star Game MVP owns a .286 career average with 361 doubles, 44 triples, 137 home runs and 807 RBI in 1754 games in the big leagues with the New York Yankees (2005-09), Atlanta (2010), Kansas City (2011 and 2017), San Francisco (2012), Toronto (2013-14), Chicago White Sox (2015-17) and Cleveland (2018).

Country star in camp

BRADENTON, Fla. — Garth Brooks has come out of baseball retirement.

The country music legend will spend just over a week participating in spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates, reporting Monday with the pitchers and catchers.

The 57-year-old has previously been in the camps of the San Diego Padres (1999), New York Mets (2000) and Kansas City Royals (2004). His workouts start Thursday.

“As a celebrity, they haven’t cut me yet, so we’ll see,” Brooks said with a laugh after taking ground balls at third base and fly balls in the outfield. “You’ve got to use your advantages, you know. Before you could crowd the plate all you want because nobody wanted to hit you. You haven’t got speed. You haven’t got fielding. You haven’t got hitting. So, use the other thing you’ve got.”

Brooks is briefly returning to the sport to mark the 20th anniversary of the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation, which has raised more than $100 million for children’s charities. The foundation pairs children with professional athletes.

Brooks was a Pirates fan despite growing up in Oklahoma.

The Pirates did not announce that Brooks would be in camp until Monday morning, making it a surprise for his “teammates.”

“I went out to take some fly balls and the guy didn’t look familiar,” left fielder Corey Dickerson said. “Then it hit me. It’s really cool. My brother and I grew up listening to his music and I’m looking forward to having a chance to talk with him.”