Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Baseball notebook: A’s fine Butler, Valencia following clubhouse fight

Oakland’s Billy Butler was put on the disabled list after suffering a concussion in a fight with teammate Danny Valencia on Friday. (Phil Long / Associated Press)
Associated Press

The Athletics fined Billy Butler and Danny Valencia on Monday after they were involved in a clubhouse fight last week that led to Butler being placed on the seven-day concussion list.

“There was an altercation in the clubhouse, we’re aware of it, both players have been disciplined and fined and we’re moving past it,” Oakland general manager David Forst said. “That’s it. From the organization’s standpoint, it’s resolved and we’re moving past it.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that Butler and Valencia began fighting over comments Butler made to an equipment representative prior to a game Friday at the Chicago White Sox. During the exchange, Valencia hit Butler in the temple before multiple teammates stepped in to end the altercation.

Butler sat out the series in Chicago with headaches and nausea.

Forst said Oakland – among the worst teams in the American League – would not suspend the players.

“This is not the first time guys have gotten into a fight in the clubhouse,” Forst said. “Unfortunately, when you’re having the kind of season that we’re having, it’s a big story. If we were winning, it would be colorful, but we’re not.”

Forst was asked if he considered it colorful for one player to injure another. He quietly replied “I don’t know.”

Butler was seen by A’s medical staff over the weekend but was not in the clubhouse when Oakland began a three-game homestand with the Indians on Monday.

Valencia did not start but was available off the bench.

A’s manager Bob Melvin addressed the team without Valencia and Butler present on Sunday. Melvin said he stands by the decision to fine and not suspend the players.

“You’re not always going to get along great, but I expect us to be fine going forward,” Melvin said. “I think this is the easiest way to move forward.”

Pirates give infielder Freese 2-year, $11 million contract

Pirates infielder David Freese has signed a two-year, $11 million contract that takes him through the 2018 season.

Under the deal, Freese will make $6.25 million in 2017 and $4.25 million in 2018. There’s a $6 million club option for 2019 or a $500,000 buyout.

Freese said: “It’s always good to be wanted and the Pirates made that clear when they offered the extension.”

The 33-year-old signed a one-year, $3 million contract as a free agent in March and is hitting .276 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs in 107 games. The eight-year veteran has made 58 starts at third base and 26 at first base.

Freese could have become eligible for free agency again after the World Series.

Freese broke into the major leagues in 2009 with his hometown St. Louis Cardinals and was the NLCS and World Series MVP in 2011. He was traded to the Los Angeles Angels after the 2013 season and played with them for two seasons.

Carolina League expands by 2, California League contracts 2

The Single-A Carolina League is expanding by two teams in 2017 while two teams in the California League will be contracted.

Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner said that the Bakersfield Blaze and the High Desert Mavericks will cease operations after the season, with Kinston, North Carolina, and another undetermined city receiving Carolina League teams.

The Texas Rangers, whose advanced Class A farm team has been at High Desert for two years, will own the team that plays in Kinston next year. Bakersfield also has been a Seattle Mariners affiliate since 2015.

The parent club, ownership and location of the other Carolina League team was not announced. Minor League Baseball says Fayetteville, North Carolina, officials have a memorandum of understanding for a stadium to open in 2019.

“We are happy that professional baseball will return to Kinston, and we are pleased with the steps Fayetteville has taken to bring professional baseball back to that great city as well,” O’Conner said.

Minor League Baseball says the Rangers and Kinston have a 12-year agreement to play at Grainger Stadium. Kinston was home to a Carolina League team from 1978-2011, and was a Cleveland Indians affiliate for the last 25 years of that run before that team moved to Zebulon, North Carolina, in 2012 and became the Carolina Mudcats.

Fayetteville played host to Carolina League teams from 1950-56 and South Atlantic League teams from 1987-2000.

High Desert owner Dave Heller said it is “with great regret and reluctance” that his team is being contracted, and blamed the city of Adelanto, California, for creating “too much uncertainty for next season and beyond.” Citing budget concerns, the city in March moved to evict the Mavericks from their publicly owned stadium.

Nationals put Strasburg on disabled list with elbow soreness

Stephen Strasburg’s weary right elbow was stiff and in dire need of some rest, so the Nationals put their winningest pitcher on the 15-day disabled list Monday.

The right-hander was willing to pitch through the pain for the N.L. East-leading Nationals, but manager Dusty Baker had other plans.

“I told him we hadn’t won anything yet and that we had to look at the big picture,” Baker said. “Hopefully he’ll be good in September and hopefully in October.”

Baker expected Strasburg (15-3, 3.59 ERA) to spend the minimum amount of time on the DL.

“He knows how bad we need him to pitch,” the manager said. “I had to explain to him that it’s not hero time.”

Asked if he considered it to be a precautionary move, Strasburg replied, “One hundred percent.”

After bolting to a 15-1 start this season, Strasburg was 0-3 with a 14.66 ERA over his past three outings.

“The recovery after each start started to get a little bit more difficult,” the 28-year-old said. “I felt like I was losing range of motion and wasn’t able to get that back in between starts. I am trying to make it better than it ever was, I guess, and hopefully that will translate into good performance down the road.”

Strasburg missed 17 games from June 19 to July 3 while on the disabled list with an upper-back strain. He hoped to avoid another trip to the DL, but Baker decided it was the right thing to do.

“I feel as a pitcher, a competitor, as long as it’s good enough you think you can just go out there and pitch,” Strasburg said. “I wanted to go out there and give it a go.”

His performance recently suggested it was better just to take a seat for a couple of weeks or so.

“He came to us and we made the decision for him,” Baker said.

Strasburg’s right elbow has been a concern of the team – and the pitcher – ever since he underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery in September 2010.

“Being a Tommy John guy, getting through the grind of a season there is just a little more maintenance that has to go with it,” he said.

Strasburg said he might change his regimen between starts, opting to work less with weights and more on flexibility.

“Your arm works a little bit differently when you do have surgery like that,” he said.

Strasburg was scheduled to start Monday night at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles. Washington recalled righty A.J. Cole to start in his place.

Mets put Matz on DL with shoulder tightness, recall Gsellman

.The Mets have placed left-handed pitcher Steven Matz on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 15, with shoulder tightness.

The Mets say the rookie underwent an MRI that revealed no structural damage to his shoulder.

Matz was scratched from his Friday start. He had taken a no-hitter into the eighth against San Diego in his last start, when he was removed after 105 pitches.

Matz is 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA. He joins Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler among New York’s heralded young pitchers on the DL.

The Mets recalled right-handed pitcher Robert Gsellman from Triple-A Las Vegas.

The 23-year-old Gsellman opened the season with Double-A Binghamton and went 3-4 with a 2.71 ERA in 11 starts before being promoted to Las Vegas. In nine starts for the 51s, Gsellman is 1-5 with a 5.73 ERA.

Rockies recall former closer Estevez, put Oberg on DL

The Rockies have recalled right-handed reliever Carlos Estevez from Triple-A Albuquerque and placed right-hander Scott Oberg on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 20, with axillary artery thrombosis in his right arm.

Estevez went 2-7 with 11 saves and a 5.28 ERA in 49 appearances before being optioned to Albuquerque on Aug. 19. He was replaced as the closer by Adam Ottavino after blowing consecutive saves earlier this month.

Oberg is 1-1 with one save and a 5.19 ERA in 24 appearances with the Rockies this season.

Padres recall INF Sardinas, place OF Blash on the DL

The Padres recalled infielder Luis Sardinas from Triple-A El Paso.

Sardinas, who was acquired from the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 15, hit .263 in five games at El Paso.

Outfielder Jabari Blash was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to Friday, with a sprained left finger.