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Shohei Ohtani: Japanese star agrees to defer majority of Los Angeles Dodgers deal​

Shohei Ohtani has agreed to defer $680m (£541m) of his $700m (£557m) deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to multiple US sources including the MLB, external.

Ohtani joined the Dodgers on a 10-year contract - in the biggest deal in the sport's history - after his contract with the Los Angeles Angels expired.

He has agreed to take home $2m (£1.6m) per year until 2034 when he will be paid $68m (£54m) per year until 2043.

The move gives the Dodgers more freedom to add to their roster.

Ohtani is reported to bring in around $50m (£40m) annually via endorsements and off-the-field ventures.

A two-time MVP, who lifted the trophy with the Angels in 2023, Ohtani has been widely credited with transforming how the sport is played in the modern era and is already well on the way to being considered an all-time great.

Unlike most baseball players who specialise in batting or pitching, Ohtani is equally skilled at both disciplines.

His overall deal is said to make Ohtani one of the world's highest-earning athletes, with the reported value of the contract ranking alongside - or even surpassing - the sort of sums megastars like footballer Lionel Messi or basketball player LeBron James have commanded.

Dodgers owner Mark Walter said: "On behalf of the LA Dodgers and our fans everywhere, we welcome Shohei Ohtani to the Dodgers, the home of Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax and Hideo Nomo, three of the sport's most legendary and pathbreaking players.

"We congratulate him on his historic contract with our storied franchise."

As per the MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was ratified after lengthy negotiations between MLB representatives and the players' association in May: "There shall be no limitations on either the amount of the deferred compensation or the percentage of total compensation attributable to deferred compensation for which a Uniform Player's Contract may provide."

In structuring the deal in this manner, the Dodgers will have greater financial flexibility in the short term as they look to ensure they meet the threshold for the league's Competitive Balance Tax (CBT), which is set at a limit of $237m (£189m) for 2024.

Each team's CBT figure is determined by using the average annual value (AAV) of each player's contract across the 40-man roster, plus additional player benefits.

Had Ohtani not opted to defer the majority of his contract, the AAV on his deal would be $70m (£56m).

The Japanese player is not the first to adopt this approach, with Max Scherzer agreeing to defer half of his $210m (£168m) when he signed a seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals before the 2015 season.

Source: BBC
 

Shohei Ohtani wants to help Los Angeles Dodgers achieve success with historic deal​

Shohei Ohtani says his decision to defer the majority of his record-breaking contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers is to help them achieve Major League Baseball success.

Japan's Ohtani, 29, agreed to carry over $680m (£541m) of his $700m (£557m) 10-year deal.

He will take home $2m (£1.6m) per year until 2034 when he will be paid $68m (£54m) per year until 2043.

The arrangement will give the Dodgers more money under MLB salary cap rules.

Speaking on Thursday, Ohtani said: "I was looking into it and doing some calculations and I figured if I can defer as much money as I can and that's going to help the Dodgers be able to sign better players and make a better team, I felt that was worth it and was willing to go that direction.

"They share the same passion as me and have a vision and history all about winning and I have the same values.

"I will face a lot of new challenges as a Dodger and I'm ready for it."

Ohtani joined the Dodgers in the biggest deal in the sport's history after his contract with the Los Angeles Angels expired.

The two-time American League Most Valuable Player, who lifted the trophy with the Angels in 2023, is reported to bring in around $50m (£40m) annually via endorsements and off-the-field ventures.

While he is skilled in both batting and pitching, Ohtani will not be able to pitch for the Dodgers in 2024 after having surgery to repair a torn right elbow ligament in October.

He underwent tendon replacement surgery in 2018 in his right elbow but said this year's operation was "completely different" to the first.

However, Ohtani believes he will "be fully ready" for the Dodgers' 2024 season opener on 20 March when they face the San Diego Padres in the first regular-season MLB game played in South Korea.

Source: BBC
 
He is a class-act and he should prove a great addition into Los Angeles Dodgers.
 
The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Japanese right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto on a 12-year deal worth a reported $325m (£256.2m).

They will also pay a $50.6m (£39.9m) 'posting fee' - designed to compensate Japanese teams - for the 25-year-old, who joins from Orix Buffaloes.

Yamamoto had interest from multiple teams, including the New York Yankees.

Earlier in December, the Dodgers signed his compatriot Shohei Ohtani in a record $700m (£558m) 10-year contract.

Ohtani said last week he was deferring the majority of his record-breaking contract to help them achieve Major League Baseball success.



BBC
 

Statue of baseball icon Jackie Robinson stolen from Kansas park​

A statue of iconic American baseball player Jackie Robinson was stolen from a park in Kansas, police said.

The bronze statue, which stood at a park in Wichita, was cut at the ankles and hauled off in a truck.

"Our community is devastated," said Wichita Police in a statement on the theft, which happened overnight on Thursday.

Police have offered a cash reward for any tip on the statue's whereabouts.

Wichita police chief Joe Sullivan said at a news conference on Friday that he was "frustrated by the actions of those individuals who had the audacity to take the statute" from a park that children and families frequent.

"This should upset all of us," Mr Sullivan said.

The statue was in McAdams Park, home to League 42, a youth baseball league named after Robinson's jersey number.

The park is also known for recognising influential African Americans. It is named after a former black city official, and its community center was renamed in recent years after the city's first elected black mayor.

Robinson, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, made history as the first black player in Major League Baseball, paving the way for generations of African American ball players.

"No matter the motivation of those who were involved, they were not only stealing from the community, they're also stealing from the legacy of work that has been put in by the members of League 42," said Brandon Johnson, a member of the Wichita city council.

"More importantly, they're stealing from the kids."

Officials are offering a $2,500 (£1,970) for any tip that leads to an arrest, and an additional $5,000 to anyone with information on where the statue might be.

The value of the stolen statue is more than $75,000, city officials said, but they added the value of what was lost is much bigger.

"The value is much more than that. It's Jackie Robinson. And I'll just leave it at that," said Troy Houtman, Wichita's parks and recreation director.

Source: BBC
 

Billy Eppler: MLB suspends ex-New York Mets general manager for fabricating injuries​

Major League Baseball has suspended ex-New York Mets general manager Billy Eppler after an investigation found he had fabricated injuries.

MLB said Eppler's improper use of the injured list included the "deliberate fabrication of injuries".

Placing players on the injured list allows teams to open roster spots, while also keeping those players under club control.

Eppler has been suspended until the end of the 2024 World Series.

The 48-year-old was the Mets general manager from November 2021 until he resigned in October following the announcement of the MLB investigation.

MLB said Eppler had also submitted documents to justify improper placements on the injured list during the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

The Mets and Eppler "fully cooperated" with the investigation, which determined Eppler was not acting under the direction of the team's owners.

In a statement, the Mets said they "consider the matter closed and will have no further comment".

Source: BBC
 
Cheating should not be tolerated in sports at any level.
 

Shohei Ohtani: Baseball superstar announces marriage to Japanese woman​

Baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani, one of Japan's most eligible bachelors, has announced that he is married, stirring a frenzy on social media.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star's announcement came as a shock as he has closely guarded his private life.

"I wanted everyone to know I am now married," the 29-year-old said on Thursday in an Instagram post.

Ohtani described his Japanese bride as someone "who is very special to me" but did not disclose her identity.

"Two people (plus one dog), we'll grow together," he told his seven million Instagram followers.

At a press conference on Friday, he did not give many more details, but said: "She is Japanese. I don't think I need to announce the date we got married. She is a typical, ordinary person."

He said there wasn't a "particular reason" to decide to get married, but said: "When I'm with her, I have fun. So I'm able to envision a future with her."

And Ohtani added she had "absolutely no influence on my decision" where to play, adding: "She said she will go wherever I go. So my decision was based on where I want to play baseball."

Last year, Ohtani made history when he signed a record-breaking 10-year, $700m (£552m) contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers - making him one of the world's highest-earning athletes.

Unlike most players who specialise in batting or pitching, Ohtani is equally skilled at both disciplines, drawing comparisons with American baseball legend Babe Ruth.

He has been given the nickname "Shotime" and has been described as among the world's best players.

On social media, congratulatory messages poured in after Ohtani made the announcement in his post on Instagram, which got one million likes in less than an hour.

But quite a few were also heartbroken that the Japanese nation's sweetheart was no longer available.

"Shohei Ohtani is married. This is the worst day of my life," one post read.

"I am so happy for him and congrats to him and his wife. I love that he was able to announce it on his own and on his own terms," another post read.

Ohtani, who is in the US for training, also received well wishes from his team.

"When you have a baseball game and a wedding to get to on the same day. Congratulations to Shohei Ohtani on his new marriage," the LA Dodgers said in a post on X, accompanied by a video of him in action during a game.

Ohtani left fans guessing over who his bride could be.

"Isn't it amazing that this woman was able to get in his strict schedule and successfully got married?" one social media user wrote.

Baseball is hugely popular in Japan and Ohtani is part of a long line of Japanese players to see action in the American league.

Shortly after his announcement, Ohtani occupied the entire top five topics on X's Japan trending topics.

One thing his wife will have to navigate is Ohtani's need for large amounts of high quality sleep - this is said to be a key factor underpinning his success.

"Sleep is my top priority," says the star, who has special custom-made pillows, and fits in naps on planes and buses and in changing rooms before and after games, Kyodo News reports.

Source: BBC
 

Shohei Ohtani: Baseball star shares first photo with new wife Mamiko Tanaka​


Japanese baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani has unveiled the identity of his new wife after weeks of speculation.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star shared a photo of Mamiko Tanaka, a former basketball player, for the first time on his Instagram on Thursday.

The newlyweds are seen in front of an aeroplane as the team makes its way to South Korea as part of the Major League Baseball (MLB) World Tour.

Ohtani did not reveal her identity when he announced their marriage last month.

The 29-year-old also gave no details about their wedding at that time, only describing his Japanese bride as someone "who is very special to me".

The announcement came as a shock to many and caused a stir on social media, leaving many of his fans guessing who she might be.

That mystery has now been solved.

Tanaka, 27, played for the Fujitsu Red Wave in the Women's Japanese Basketball League for four seasons before retiring last year, according to CBS News.

 

Shohei Ohtani to address theft and gambling claims surrounding fired translator Ippei Mizuhara​


Baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani will speak to the media later to address allegations of theft connected to illegal gambling surrounding his former interpreter.

The translator, Ippei Mizuhara, was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers last week after the claims emerged.

Ohtani's legal representatives have accused Mr Mizuhara of "massive theft".

At least $4.5m (£3.5m) was reportedly transferred from Ohtani's bank account to a bookmaker.

Sports betting is legal in 38 states in America, but it remains illegal in California.

Ohtani, 29, has not been accused of any crime or placing any bets. On Monday the Japanese sports hero is expected to publicly address the controversy for the first time.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has backed Ohtani's decision to speak out.

"I'm happy he's going to speak and speak to what he knows and give his thoughts on the whole situation," he told a news conference on Sunday.

"I think it will give us all a little bit more clarity."

ESPN reported last week that a newly hired crisis-communications spokesman for Ohtani had initially told the network that the former Los Angeles Angels star had transferred funds to cover his interpreter's gambling debts. But the spokesman soon recanted this account and said the star's lawyers would issue a statement.

Berk Brettler, a law firm representing Ohtani, said: "In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities."

Mr Mizuhara originally told ESPN that Ohtani had been aware of his interpreter's gambling debts. But a day later he was fired and then said Ohtani did not know about the gambling debts and had not transferred the money.

It is not known whether any of Mr Mizuhara's alleged sports gambling involved baseball games.

In his interview with ESPN, Mr Mizuhara said: "I want everyone to know Shohei had zero involvement in betting."

Since the allegations surfaced last week, Major League Baseball and the Internal Revenue Service have announced formal inquiries into the matter.

Mr Ohtani played last week in front of a sell-out crowd during a two-game series between the LA Dodgers and San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea.

Last December, Ohtani signed a record 10-year, $700m contract with the Dodgers, becoming the face of the sports franchise. He had just won his second unanimous American League MVP award.

His stint in the US started in 2018, and Mr Mizuhara has been a constant companion.

Mr Mizuhara's record before working with Ohtani has come under scrutiny in recent days.

The University of California, Riverside released a statement saying they had no record of Mr Mizuhara ever attending the university, contrary to the claim of the translator's public biography.

And the Boston Red Sox said Mr Mizuhara was never employed as an interpreter by the franchise, despite news reports and a Los Angeles Angels media guide saying so.

Source: BBC
 
Dave McCarty, a first baseman and outfielder on the 2004 Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series, died Friday in Oakland, California. He was 54.

The Red Sox announced his death and said it was caused by a "cardiac event."

Source: ESPN
 

Padres make trade for Marlins 2B Luis Arraez​

The San Diego Padres have acquired second baseman Luis Arraez in a trade with the Miami Marlins for reliever Woo-Suk Go and prospects Dillon Head, Jakob Marsee and Nathan Martorella, the teams announced Saturday.

The Padres also received nearly $7.9 million in cash considerations, leaving them responsible only for the major league minimum salary for Arraez.

The transaction represents the first significant move for the Marlins since Peter Bendix took over as the team's president of baseball operations in November after Kim Ng departed. It marks the beginning of the Marlins' teardown of an underachieving roster that has produced the third-worst record in the majors at 9-25 with a minus-61 run differential after reaching the postseason in 2023.

On the other side, it's another aggressive deal for A.J. Preller, the leader of the Padres' front office since 2014. Arraez, one of the sport's best contact hitters, will give the Padres a needed left-handed-hitting weapon after Juan Soto was sent to the New York Yankees in December. San Diego is 17-18 with a plus-6 run differential.

"It's really amazing -- that guy is a baller," Fernando Tatis Jr. said about Arraez after the Padres' win Friday night. "He's probably the closest to Tony Gwynn right now, so looking forward to seeing him in our lineup. ... The guy's a pure hitter, and I can't wait for him to help us."

Miami is paying San Diego $7,898,602 of the $8,491,398 remaining for the final 149 days of Arraez's $10.6 million salary. That left his cost to the Padres at $592,796 -- exactly a prorated share of the $740,000 minimum.

Arraez, 27, was the Marlins' best player, an All-Star and batting champion each of the past two seasons. This season, he is batting .299 with a .719 OPS in 33 games, all started at second base. He also has extensive experience at first base.

"When a guy like that is taken out of the lineup or potentially traded, you feel it, because he's such a good kid and one of the leaders in that clubhouse," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said, "so there's definitely a shock value."

Arraez is expected to start games as the Padres' designated hitter, but the club plans to cycle through the DH spot. Jake Cronenworth, Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado could also get at-bats there. Bogaerts has been the club's starting second baseman.

Go spent seven seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization before signing a two-year deal with a mutual option worth $4.5 million guaranteed during the offseason. The 25-year-old right-hander appeared in 10 games for Double-A San Antonio, posting a 4.38 ERA across 12⅓ innings after failing to make the Padres' bullpen out of spring training.

Head was the Padres' first-round pick (25th overall) last year out of high school. The 19-year-old center fielder is batting .237 with a .683 OPS and three stolen bases in 21 games in low-Class A.

Martorella is batting .294 with an .820 OPS in 23 games in San Antonio. The Padres selected the 23-year-old first baseman in the fifth round of the 2022 draft. Marsee, a 22-year-old outfielder, has spent the season in San Antonio batting .185 with two home runs. He was a sixth-round pick in 2022 out of Central Michigan.

 
Japanese baseball great Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges he fraudulently wired nearly $17 million stolen from the athlete's bank account to pay off his own gambling debts, court records showed on Wednesday.

The plea agreement between federal prosecutors and Ippei Mizuhara, the onetime translator and de facto manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers' power-hitting pitcher, was announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A., where the case was first brought last month.

reuters
 

Kansas man pleads guilty to stealing Jackie Robinson statue​


A man accused of helping steal a statue of baseball player Jackie Robinson from a park in Kansas has pleaded guilty.

Ricky Alderete, a 45-year-old man from Wichita, told court that he helped swipe the statue from the park and loaded it in a pickup truck.

The bronze statue was cut off at the ankles before it was hauled away by the burglars in January.

Its theft was met with outcry from community members, who have since raised money to replace it.

Mr Alderete is facing multiple charges including aggravated burglary, aggravated damage to property and theft, according to prosecutors.

He pleaded guilty to the charges on Thursday in the Sedgwick County District Court in Wichita, Kansas.

District Judge Tyler Roush told Mr Alderete that he faces a maximum prison sentence of over 19 years.

He also faces a fine of $41,500 (£33,126) that would be paid to League 42, a youth baseball league that plays in McAdams Park, where the statue was stolen from. The league was named after Robinson's jersey number.

Surveillance footage of the theft shows at least two people entering the park around midnight and stealing the statue, police had previously said.

Mr Alderete is the first to be arrested. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 1 July.

Robinson, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, made history as the first black player in MLB, paving the way for generations of African American ball players.

Earlier, authorities said there was no evidence to suggest the theft of the statue was a hate crime. Rather, the perpetrators were likely looking to make money.

"We believe this theft was motivated by the financial gain of scrapping common metal," Police lieutenant Aaron Moses said in February.

Authorities also said they believe the statue is no longer intact, and that it has been taken apart by the burglars and would need to be fully replaced.

Since its theft, nearly $200,000 (£159,650) was raised by community members through an online fundraiser, and Major League Baseball (MLB), North America's professional baseball league, has since offered to replace it.

The new statue is expected to be erected by the summer, city officials have said.

Source: BBC
 

Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani progressing in recovery from TJ surgery​

NEW YORK -- While Shohei Ohtani has remained one of the most productive hitters in the majors this season, he continues making progress in his recovery to getting back on the mound after Tommy John surgery.

The Los Angeles Dodgers superstar said he started throwing from 60 feet last week and reached 80 mph.

"Just progressively increasing the distance," Ohtani said through an interpreter Monday before the Dodgers' series opener against the New York Mets was postponed. "Usually anywhere from 60-70 pitches, in that distance. Just continuing to increase the distance and the pitches, and just seeing where that goes. I'm not quite sure how far I'm going to go out there, but that's the progression."
 

MLB umpire Ángel Hernández retiring after 3 decades​

MLB umpire Ángel Hernández is retiring effective immediately, ending a controversial three-decade-long career that in recent years turned Hernández into a source of consternation with players and a punching bag among fans on social media.

The 62-year-old Hernández, who in a statement confirmed earlier reports he would be retiring, reached a settlement to leave Major League Baseball, according to a source, and will leave after umpiring thousands of games since his debut in 1991.

Hernández, who worked his last game May 9 and was replaced on Lance Barksdale's crew by Jacob Metz, sued MLB in 2017, alleging the league had engaged in racial discrimination. The lawsuit was thrown out by a district court judge, a decision upheld by an appeals court last year.

With a penchant for bad calls -- during a 2018 playoff game, he had three calls reversed by replay in the first four innings -- Hernández received a disproportionate amount of odium from fans. The lawsuit only added to the animus Hernández generated, and the groundswell grew to the point that Hernández retired after missing much of the 2023 season with a back injury.

 

Report: Padres' Marcano facing lifetime ban for betting on baseball​

San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano is facing a potential lifetime ban from MLB for betting on baseball, sources told Jared Diamond and Lindsey Adler of The Wall Street Journal.

The league is investigating the 24-year-old Venezuelan, who's reportedly accused of betting on Pittsburgh Pirates games last season when he was on their injured list.

Four other players also face potential league discipline for betting on baseball while in the minor leagues, sources told Diamond and Adler.

"We are aware of an active investigation by Major League Baseball regarding a matter that occurred when the player in question was a member of another organization and not affiliated with the San Diego Padres. We will not have any further comment until the investigative process has been completed," the Padres said in a statement, per Diamond and Adler.

The Pirates stated they "were aware of the matter" and are "fully cooperating" but will refrain from any further comments, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Noah Hiles.

The Padres claimed Marcano off waivers in November, but he hasn't played a game for their organization since being acquired. He suited up in 25 games for San Diego in 2021 before he was traded to Pittsburgh. He hasn't appeared in an MLB game since tearing his ACL with the Pirates in July 2023.

Marcano's investigation follows other recent sports gambling scandals, including one involving Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, who allegedly stole nearly $17 million from the Japanese baseball star.

Ohtani's former Los Angeles Angels teammate, David Fletcher, is also being investigated by the league for allegedly betting on sports with the same illegal bookmaker connected to Mizuhara.

 

Ohtani's ex-interpreter pleads guilty to fraud charges​

The former interpreter of Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani pleaded guilty to tax and bank fraud charges at a courthouse south of Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Ippei Mizuhara, 39, is accused of stealing nearly $17m (£13.3m) from Mr Ohtani - who plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers - during the years he was employed by the top athlete.

Mr Ohtani is one of the biggest names in modern baseball. He signed a record 10-year, $700m contract with the Dodgers before the 2024 season, becoming a face of the franchise and Major League Baseball.

Prosecutors have said that Mizuhara used the baseball player's money to pay off his mounting gambling debts.

The guilty plea is part of a deal the ex-interpreter entered with prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence.

The case has been the subject of much attention from baseball fans in Japan and America since news of the allegations first broke in March.

At Tuesday’s hearing at a federal court in Orange County, Mizhuara reportedly said that he fell into major gambling debt. He said that the only way out was to use money he wired from Mr Ohtani’s account.

Prosecutors allege the ex-interpreter had called bank officials and falsely identified himself as Mr Ohtani "to trick employees into authorizing wire transfers from [Mr] Ohtani's bank account to associates of the illegal gambling operation”.

They have also accused him of tax fraud.

“The extent of this defendant's deception and theft is massive,” US Attorney Martin Estrada said last month when laying out the charges.

“He took advantage of his position of trust to take advantage of Mr Ohtani and fuel a dangerous gambling habit.”

The bank fraud charge is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and he could face up to three years for the tax fraud charge.

Mizhuara pleaded guilty to both.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for 25 October.

Mizhuara was fired in March as news of the allegations emerged. At the time, Mr Ohtani, 29, said he was “saddened and shocked” that someone he had trusted had “done this”.

Mizuhara had been a constant companion since the baseball star - now a two-time winner of the American League MVP award - began playing in the US in 2018.

Mr Ohtani, who does not speak English, has relied heavily on his interpreter, from help with media interviews to banking and working with his financial advisors.

Source: BBC
 

Mets' Kodai Senga won't be back before All-Star break​

LONDON -- New York Mets pitcher Kodai Senga won't make his season debut until after the All-Star break, manager Carlos Mendoza said Saturday.

"That's fair to say," Mendoza said in response to a question about the right-hander's rehab timeline.

The Mets are in London for a two-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Senga, 31, has been sidelined by a capsule strain in his pitching shoulder. But he has started long-tossing.

"Hopefully he can start throwing bullpens at some point at the beginning of next week," Mendoza said.

Senga went 12-7 with a 2.98 ERA in 29 starts for the Mets last year, making the NL All-Star team during his first season in the majors after arriving from Japan. He struck out 202 batters in 166⅓ innings, finishing runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year and seventh in Cy Young Award voting.

 

Mets beat Phillies to draw two-game London Series​

The New York Mets produced a thrilling 6-5 comeback win over rivals the Philadelphia Phillies to level Major League Baseball's two-game London Series.

The Phillies cruised to a 7-2 victory in the opening game at London Stadium on Saturday, but their second meeting less than 24 hours later was a closer contest.

New York recovered from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game in the sixth inning, before Phillies retook the lead with an impressive David Dahl solo home run.

It looked as if the Phillies would hold on and claim the series with a ninth win in eight games, but the Mets took advantage of Jose Alvarado's inaccuracy to take a 6-4 lead in the final inning.

The Phillies pulled one back with their final three outs and could have forced an extra inning, but their fightback ended when Nick Castellanos grounded into a dramatic game-ending double play.

The Phillies were classed as the home team, with Wrexham co-owner and Philadelphia native Rob McElhenney throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

This is the third MLB series to take place in London, following the New York Yankees v the Boston Red Sox in 2019 and the Chicago Cubs against the St Louis Cardinals in 2023.

Source: BBC
 

ABS challenge system set to fully be used in Triple-A​

Major League Baseball sent a memo to farm directors Tuesday indicating that beginning on June 25, all Triple-A games will use the automated ball-strike (ABS) challenge system as opposed to full ABS, which was previously used for half the week.

The move is another indication that the league is inching toward implementing the challenge system at the major league level, though commissioner Rob Manfred has said that move is still at least another season away from happening.

The memo, obtained by ESPN, says the league's research indicates that both in-uniform personnel (players and coaches) and fans prefer a challenge system over full ABS.

In the challenge system, challenges to calls on balls and strikes are made by the hitter or catcher in real time with the umpire receiving an answer to the challenge via an earpiece. In full ABS, every call is made for the umpire.

For the first half of this season at Triple-A, full ABS was used for Tuesday-Thursday games while the challenge system was used for weekend contests. Now, all games will have the challenge system.

Additionally, the International League will experiment with teams only receiving two challenges per game instead of three, which has been the norm. That change is being implemented in an effort to reduce the frequency of high-challenge games. The league memo indicates that 89% of fans believe the optimal number of challenges per game is six or fewer; however, almost 40% of Triple-A games featured more than six. In all cases, teams retain the challenge if they are successful.

Interestingly, in surveys with fans and players, the league found that not only do they prefer the challenge system over full ABS, they also prefer the current system -- umpires making all calls -- over full ABS:
  • 61% of team personnel, including players, and 47% of fans prefer the challenge system.
  • 28% of personnel and 30% of fans prefer human umpires making all calls.
  • Only 11% of personnel and 23% of fans want full ABS.
According to sources familiar with the experimentation in the minor leagues, the earliest any system could be implemented at the major league level is 2026.

Source: ESPN
 
Baseball great Willie Mays dies at 93

Baseball legend Willie Mays, widely considered one of the best players in the sport's history, has died, according to the San Francisco Giants.

"It is with great sadness that we announce that San Francisco Giants Legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays passed away peacefully this afternoon at the age of 93," the team posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday.

A statement from Major League Baseball (MLB) said it was "heartbroken" over the death of "one of the most exciting all-around players in the history of our sport".

Mays was twice declared the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) and won the World Series with the Giants in 1954.

Nicknamed the “Say Hey Kid”, the center fielder was baseball’s oldest living Hall of Famer.

His famous catch during the 1954 World Series remains one of the most iconic plays in the history of America’s so-called “National Pastime”.

In addition to his two MVP awards, he also finished in the top 10 runner-ups for MVP 10 other times.

Mays' son, Michael, told the Associated Press that his father died in the presence of his family and wished to thank his fans for their years of support.

"My father has passed away peacefully and among loved ones. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my broken heart for the unwavering love you have shown him over the years,” he said.

“You have been his life's blood."

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred also released a statement describing his impact on the game.

"His incredible achievements and statistics do not begin to describe the awe that came with watching Willie Mays dominate the game in every way imaginable,” he wrote.

“We will never forget this true Giant on and off the field."

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement that to people that grew up in the city, "some things just go without question... Willie Mays is the best there ever was".

California Governor Gavin Newsom also praised Mays as "more than just a baseball icon".

"He broke barriers and inspired millions of Americans — setting records, bringing joy to countless fans, and becoming a role model for a generation of future athletes."

Despite having not played professional sports for over 50 years, the MLB added 10 more hits to his career record earlier this month, after deciding to incorporate statistics from the Negro League.

His record now stands at 3,293 hits, including the 10 he hit for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948.

On Monday, Mays said he would not be able to attend a game in his honour that was scheduled for Thursday.

“I’m not able to get to Birmingham this year but will follow the game back here in the Bay Area,” Mays said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

“My heart will be with all of you who are honoring the Negro League ballplayers, who should always be remembered, including all my teammates on the Black Barons.

“It’ll be a special day, and I hope the kids will enjoy it and be inspired by it."

Mays was born and raised in Westfield, Alabama, and began his professional baseball career while still in high school in 1948.

He joined the New York Giants in 1950, and in 1951 hit 20 home runs for the team as a 20-year-old.

After the 1951 season Mays was drafted into the US Army to serve in the Korean War.

After missing the 1952 and 1953 seasons due to his military service, he returned in 1954 to earn his first MVP award.

After the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco in 1954, he helped the team defeat Cleveland in the World Series.

The over-the-shoulder catch he made during the game helped the team cinch the win with a score of 5-2 after 10 innings.

In 1972 he was traded to the New York Mets at the age of 41 where he played for two more seasons before retiring.

BBC
 

Scherzer to make season debut Sunday vs. Royals​

Texas Rangers right-hander Max Scherzer announced he'll make his season debut Sunday against the Kansas City Royals, according to Kennedi Landry of MLB.com.

Scherzer has yet to pitch in the majors in 2024 after undergoing back surgery in December. The 39-year-old then dealt with a nerve issue that started in May.

The three-time Cy Young winner said the Rangers were extra cautious with his recovery from the nerve ailment because he showed a loss in grip strength after his second rehab start, according to Jeff Wilson of Rangers Today.

Scherzer helped the Rangers win the 2023 World Series following a deal with the New York Mets at last season's trade deadline.

The eight-time All-Star posted a 3.77 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 10.3 K/9 over 152 2/3 innings (27 starts) between Texas and New York last year.

 
Martinez given 80-game ban two days after MLB debut

Toronto Blue Jays infielder Orelvis Martinez has been suspended for 80 games for violating Major League Baseball's doping policy.

The 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic only made his Major League debut on Friday but has tested positive for clomiphene, a fertility drug on MLB's banned performance-enhancing drugs list.

Martinez said in a statement he was prescribed Rejun 50, which contains clomiphene, by a fertility clinic in his homeland after trying unsuccessfully since 2020 to start a family with his girlfriend.

"In my attempt to start a family, I made a mistake," he said in a statement.

"With that said, I took full responsibility for my negligence and accepted my suspension."

Martinez signed with the Blue Jays in 2018 for $3.5m (£2.8m) and established himself as one of the best power-hitting prospects in the minor leagues.

"We were both surprised and disappointed to learn of Orelvis Martinez's suspension," said Blue Jays executive vice president and general manager Ross Atkins.

"We will do everything in our power to ensure Orelvis has learned from his mistake. Orelvis has our support and we know he will get through this."

Martinez will be eligible to return in September for Toronto, who are last in the American League East division with 35 wins and 41 losses.


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