Mark Townsend

  • Penn State hero occupied Derek Jeter's locker at Pinstripe Bowl

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 11 hrs ago

    The first game took place on Nov. 19 when Patriot League rivals Lehigh and Lafayette met for the 150th time ever. It's not clear who used Jeter's locker that day. The second took place on Saturday afternoon when the fifth annual Pinstripe Bowl was played between the Penn State Nittany Lions and Boston College Eagles, and we know for a fact the locker belonged to Penn State senior kicker and special teams' captain Sam Ficken

    Here's the visual proof.

    Gameday #13 is here. @PinstripeBowl at 4:30 on ESPN. @sficken1 using the locker that belonged to Derek Jeter today. pic.twitter.com/mTXyjTHW3o

    It's a locker fit for a captain, and though Ficken wears a considerably higher uniform number than Jeter's famous No. 2 — he's still a kicker after all, so he gets No. 97 — it appears it's also a locker fit for a hero.

    Ficken drills it. The game is tied 24-24. Still 20 seconds to go.

    This parting photo is pretty cool, too.

  • Dan Uggla and Heath Bell get another chance, sign with Nats

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 17 hrs ago

    On Friday, the defending NL East champion Washington Nationals announced the signings of veterans Dan Uggla and Heath Bell to minor-league deals, thus proving once again that it's difficult for once established major league players to play their way completely out of MLB.

    That's especially true if a specific player once earned an All-Star selection or three in his career, and perhaps even more so if the player once had a specific unique skill, such as middle infielder with home run power, or experience in a specific role, such as a closer. If a player fits that criteria, which both Uggla and Bell do to a tee, chances are teams will be more willing to take a flier or at least kick the tires.

    That's the good news for Uggla and Bell. The less encouraging reality, however, is both have declined quickly and have burned through a few opportunities or "baseball lives" already over the past couple seasons. Without a turn around in 2015, the end may soon be near.

    Uggla is an extreme longshot to move the needle in Washington, but he serves as reasonable infield depth should general manager Mike Rizzo elect to trade Ian Desmond, which is heavily rumored.

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  • Starlin Castro questioned after shooting in Dominican Republic

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 20 hrs ago

    According to ESPN's Enrique Rojas, Chicago Cubs shortstop  Starlin Castro was detained — not arrested, as was originally reported — by authorities in the Dominican Republic on Saturday and held for questioning in connection to a nightclub shooting that left six people injured. There are few concrete details on the series of events surrounding the incident, but it's reported a shooting took place late Friday night or early Saturday morning at  Ocean Club in Montecristi while Castro and his entourage were in attendance.

    A police spokesperson did not initially indicate whether they believed Castro was direcltly involved, but noted that some people close to Castro participated in the shooting. 

    Here's a translated statement that was released on Twitter:

    It's also reported that one person injured in the shooting is currently listed in serious condition. The condition of the others has not been released. 

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  • Curt Schilling offers sage advice to Johnny Manziel

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The only thing Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel asked for this holiday season is another opportunity to earn the team's starting job. That's something the Browns aren't yet willing to give their disappointing rookie, who through two NFL starts has done more to embarrass himself than establish himself. But perhaps if Manziel follows the unsolicited yet sage advice of former major league pitcher and current ESPN analyst Curt Schilling, he'll have a better chance of realizing his potential.

    It all started on Christmas Eve, just one day after Manziel openly admitted that he needed to work harder and take his job more seriously if he hopes to survive in the NFL. Having apparently heard or read this, Schilling immediately took charge and tweeted a message to Manziel, which has since led to some fun responses. 

    Here's how it began. 

    Nailed it, Curt. 

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  • Reports: Kenta Maeda and Hiroki Kuroda to pitch in Japan

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Two of baseball's top remaining free agents have reportedly reached agreements to pitch in Japan next season.

    Kenta Maeda, a 26-year-old right-hander who was expected to command north of $100 million if made available to MLB teams this winter, has reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with the Hiroshima Carp after they refused to post him last week. He'll be joined by 39-year-old right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who reportedly agreed to a deal with Hiroshima on Friday.

    So Long Hiroki Kuroda - Hiroki Kuroda is returning to NBP Hiroshima via @proyakyuantenna pic.twitter.com/LgIFJRy2Ic #yankees h/t @daisukesugiura

    Of course, that's not Maeda's concern. He's just looking forward to the challenge of pitching in MLB someday.

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  • Fredi Gonzalez announces A.J. Pierzynski signing in ham store

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    The Atlanta Braves are keeping busy around the holidays. On Tuesday, they announced the signing of veteran reliever Jason Grilli to a two-year contract. On Wednesday, it was reported the Braves have also signed veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal, though credit for that scoop doesn't go to the usual suspects in the baseball reporting field, or even the next wave of teenage reporters hoping to make a name.

    Nope. It was actually reported by Aaron Lunsford (@darrenstains on Twitter), whose father learned of the signing while speaking to Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez while they shopped at Honeybaked Ham. Lunsford then tweeted this information to several baseball reporters and his near 3,000 followers on Twitter.

    Source: @braves and AJ pierzynski agree to deal. No details. Check it @Buster_ESPN @Ken_Rosenthal @jcrasnick @jessespector not kidding

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  • Braves beef up bullpen with addition of Jason Grilli

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    New Atlanta Braves president John Hart has already put his stamp on the team by trading away offensive centerpieces Jason Heyward and Justin Upton for a collection of prospects and a viable young starter in Shelby Miller. He's also added a pair of free agent bats in Nick Markakis and Alberto Callapso to help offset the lost production. Now the time has come to address an already impressive bullpen.

    According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Braves have reached an agreement with veteran reliever Jason Grilli on a two-year deal that includes a third-year team option. David O'Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution has since confirmed those details. MLB.com's Mark Bowman added the financial details.  

    Grilli will receive $4.25M in 2015 and $3.5M in 2016. He has a $3M option for 2017 ($250K buyout). Contract includes a $250K signing bonus

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  • Ryan Lavarnway joins fourth different team in December

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Roster moves around Major League Baseball have slowed considerably in wake of the chaotic Winter Meetings. With the holidays fast approaching, that's not likely to change much between now and the new year. However, one major league player in particular, veteran catcher Ryan Lavarnway, has done enough moving over the past three weeks that he'd be wise to keep his figurative bags packed and his cell phone handy while enjoying the holiday festivities.

    On Tuesday, Lavarnway was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles, meaning he's officially represented four different teams since Dec. 5.

    Lavarnway's winding holiday road comes after six years of stability with the Boston Red Sox. He was drafted by Boston in the 6th round of the 2008 amateur draft and worked his way up their system, spending parts of four seasons as their backup catcher. After appearing in nine games in 2014 and 97 overall for Boston, he was designated for assignment on Nov. 25 to make room on the roster for Pablo Sandoval.

    That brings us to today's transaction and Lavarnway's new team, the Baltimore Orioles.

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  • Mystery surrounds winning bid for Korean SS Jung-Ho Kang

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 6 days ago

    We know for a fact somebody won the rights to negotiate with shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, who on Dec. 14 became the first Korean position player ever to be posted.

    We also know for a fact that the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organzation (KBO), Kang's current employer, have accepted the higher than expected winning bid, which reportedly came in at $5,002,015.

    Per source: Nexen was expecting about $2 million in posting (low expectations after two KBO players before Kang got around that money)

    The first tweet is in reference to Kwang-hyun Kim and Hyeon-jong Yang, a pair of Korean pitchers who were posted earlier this winter. Left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu commanded a Korean record $25.7 million bid in 2012, so Kang was nowhere near that neighborhood.

    The 'No' List RT @MaxWildstein: Jung-ho Kang Update: pic.twitter.com/v7qJMKBFEN

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  • Festive photo: Corey Kluber in full elf costume

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 7 days ago

    When you're the American League Cy Young winner, apparently your holiday cheer is elevated to a level matching your on field performance. That's the only explanation that seems plausible when it comes to the potentially developing trend of pitchers going all out — and we mean way, way out there — on holiday attire.

    For example, here's this year's reigning AL Cy Young winner, Cleveland Indians left-hander Corey Kluber, decked out in a full elf suit on Saturday.

    I guess this all but confirms manager Terry Francona's assertion that even though Kluber is typically reserved, he has his moments where he comes out of his shell to entertain and amuse his teammates.

    Anybody can do ugly sweater... No one can dare top those red corduroy pants! #UglyOutfit pic.twitter.com/ihS5X12plO

    Whoever wins the AL Cy Young in 2015, we wish you the best of luck. These are tough acts to follow.

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