Phillies sign right-hander Rodrigo Lopez to minor league contract

Phillies sign right-hander Rodrigo Lopez to minor league contract

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies have signed right-hander Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league contract with a spring training invite. This confirms a report by Fernando Ballesteros of Puro Beisbol. Lopez, who turned 37 in December, had a 5.68 ERA over four relief appearances with the Cubs last season and posted a 5.28…

Wieters has had many understudies in his Orioles time

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Wieters has had many understudies in his Orioles time

For the first time in his eight seasons with the Orioles, Matt Wieters has had lots of backup catchers. 

Caleb Joseph, who never saw Wieters catch a game with Orioles until last June, has been with the team since May 2014, and he’s arguably the most skilled of Wieters’ understudies. 

How many of these names do you recognize? 

When Wieters came up on May 29, 2009, he supplanted Gregg Zaun as the Orioles’ regular catcher. That was the plan all along, but Zaun was miffed at backing up the highly touted rookie, and he was sent to Tampa Bay in August. 

Chad Moeller was Wieters’ No. 2 for the remainder of 2009. 

MORE ORIOLES: HOT WIETERS PLAYING THREE STRAIGHT

Craig Tatum took over for Moeller in 2010 and he and Jake Fox were Wieters’ substitutes in 2011. 

A year later when the Orioles went on to the postseason for the first time in 14 years, Luis Exposito, Ronny Paulino and Taylor Teagarden were the catchers,

Teagarden returned in 2013, but was let go in late August. Steve Clevenger and Chris Snyder also caught that year. 

Clevenger began 2014 as Wieters’ backup, but when he was injured, Joseph was brought up from Norfolk, and Nick Hundley was acquired from San Diego. Hundley never played with the Orioles when Wieters was active. 

Last year, Ryan Lavarnway began the year as Joseph’s backup, but was cast aside after a few weeks. Clevenger also played in 2015. 

Dusty Baker: Daniel Murphy 'more than I think anybody dreamed that he would be'

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Dusty Baker: Daniel Murphy 'more than I think anybody dreamed that he would be'

Amid a torrid start to his season, Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy will be given the night off by manager Dusty Baker for Thursday's series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The 31-year-old Murphy — a revelation since he signed with the Nats in January at three years, $37.5 million — leads the majors with a .394 batting average and is second with a 1.043 on-base plus slugging mark. 

"He's been more than I think anybody dreamed that he would be," Baker said before Thursday's game. 

Even more amazing is that Murphy wasn't even the Nats' first option during baseball''s Hot Stove season. Baker mentioned that Washington's original target at that spot was Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who was nearly traded to D.C. were it not for the team's reluctance to extend the veteran's contract. The Nats were also reportedly in on Ben Zobrist, who signed with the Chicago Cubs at four years, $56 million.

Given the early returns, suffice it say that Murphy is undoubtedly one of the best bargains of the offseason. 

"I'm glad we got Daniel Murphy," Baker said. "Big time....I don't think we could have done much better with a player [in free agency] than Murphy."

Mostly known as a good-but-not-great hitter throughout most of his seven-year tenure with the New York Mets, Murphy showed signs of a breakout during the latter part of 2015 after he altered his batting stance. Per a suggestion from Mets hitting coach Kevin Long, Murphy went to more of a crouch and crept up on the plate a little more. The tweak allowed him to pull the ball more and leverage his knack for making contact, which created a power stroke that hasn't dissipated since.

The change, while crucial to Murphy's impressive season, is also part of the reason he'll be monitored from time to time. But that's something Baker and the Nats are more than willing to accommodate him on — especially if he keeps putting up these kinds of numbers. 

"We [have] to watch him to keep his legs strong because he's always in a squat," Baker said. "So [the time off] is a day to get his legs worked on and get everything back strong 'till the next day off."

Before signing Josh Norman, Redskins had sights set on Brandon Browner

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Before signing Josh Norman, Redskins had sights set on Brandon Browner

When the Carolina Panthers unexpectedly rescinded Josh Norman's franchise tag in late April, the Redskins quickly swooped in and landed the dynamic, ball-hawking cornerback. But if all had gone the team's way, Norman would have been just the icing on the cake.

A few weeks prior to Norman becoming a member of the Redskins, the Seattle Seahawks signed former "Legion of Boom" member Brandon Browner to a one-year deal after a failed stint with the New Orleans Saints. 

On Thursday, Browner spoke to Seattle media members, and let it slip that the Redskins had made an offer to him. 

Now, it's hard to know if the Redskins would have so quick to pursue Norman if they were able to sign Browner, what with Bashaud Breeland progressing nicely at the other corner. 

But it is fun to imagine the possibilities.

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