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Axlin16 wrote:

Rescued Nationals catcher Ramos found; thankful to be alive
by Ian James / AP


VALENCIA, Venezuela (AP)—His eyes tearing up with emotion, Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos embraced his rescuers Saturday and said he had wondered whether he would survive a two-day kidnapping ordeal that ended when commandos swept into his captors’ mountain hideout.

Ramos said that he was thankful to be alive a day after his rescue and that his final moments as a prisoner were hair-raising as police and the kidnappers exchanged heavy gunfire in the remote area where he was being held. He said his kidnappers had carefully planned the abduction and told him they were going to demand a large ransom.

“I didn’t know if I was going to get out of it alive,” Ramos told reporters at a police station in his hometown of Valencia, flanked by police investigators, National Guard commanders and Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami. “It was very hard for me. It was very hard for my family.”

El Aissami said authorities arrested four of the captors, all of them Venezuelan men in their 20s. A 60-year-old woman and a 74-year-old man were also arrested as accomplices for supplying the kidnappers with food from their home in the area, he said. The six suspects were led past journalists at the police station with black hoods over their heads.

The authorities were still searching for at least four Colombian men who escaped during the rescue, El Aissami said. He didn’t say whether anyone was wounded in the gunbattle.

Ramos, 24, was seized at gunpoint outside his family’s home Wednesday night and whisked away in an SUV. It was the first known kidnapping of a Major League Baseball player in Venezuela, and the abduction set off an outpouring of candlelight vigils and public prayers at stadiums as well as outside Ramos’ house.

El Aissami said investigators’ first break in the case came when they found the kidnappers’ stolen SUV, a bronze-colored Chevrolet, abandoned in the town of Bejuma alongside the mountains of central Carabobo state. With that location pinpointed, he said, they studied past crimes in the area and ended up checking on a rural house that authorities believed had been used in a previous kidnapping.

An SUV parked outside had mud on it even though there was no mud in the area, El Aissami said. Investigators suspected that SUV was being used to shuttle food to another spot nearby, and eventually determined the house was probably being used by the kidnappers as a support base while holding Ramos elsewhere, he said.

El Aissami said authorities took over the house and detained the couple who had been cooking for the abductors.

Once investigators thought they had found the general area where Ramos might be, President Hugo Chavez personally authorized an aerial search mission and teams also set out on foot in the mountainous area, El Aissami said. He said the teams searched most of the day on Friday and finally came upon the remote house where Ramos was being held.

Chavez followed the operation “minute by minute,” the justice minister said.

The two-day search involved about 200 police and National Guard troops as well as helicopters, said Joel Rengifo, former chief of a Venezuelan police anti-kidnapping unit who is now an investigations adviser for Major League Baseball. He said the group that rescued Ramos numbered about 30.

Rengifo accompanied the family during the ordeal and said he was ready to advise them on what to say if the kidnappers called, but they never did.

Ramos recently returned to his homeland after his rookie year with the Nationals to play during the offseason in the Venezuelan league.

When he was abducted, he was standing with his father and two brothers just outside the front door of his family’s home in a working-class neighborhood of Valencia, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) west of Caracas.

Ramos said his captors drove him for five or six hours, and once changed from one SUV to another. He said they bound his hands at first, but later allowed him not to be tied up. The kidnappers didn’t cover their faces and they spoke little to him, he said.

“They demanded only money,” he said.

Ramos said some of his abductors spoke with Colombian accents and revealed they had studied his movements before carrying out the abduction.

“They told me many things they knew of my private life,” he said. “They knew a lot about me. They had very good information, an informant who told them all that.”

El Aissami said the Colombian informant lived near Ramos’ family, and investigators believed he planned the kidnapping and studied Ramos’ daily routine.

“This person is the one who gives the information to a criminal group,” which in turn carried out the kidnapping, El Aissami said.

It wasn’t immediately clear from his remarks whether the alleged informant was one of the four wanted Colombians, or an additional suspect. The number of suspects could grow as the investigation continued, El Aissami said.

He said the investigation also pointed in part to “Colombian paramilitary groups that could be involved in the kidnapping.”

Ramos said he was kept in a room and passed the time lying on a bed. When the gunfire erupted Friday as his rescuers arrived, “I was on the bed and I threw myself directly to the floor.”

“It was like 15 minutes of shots until the officials arrived and saw me in the room,” said Ramos, who hugged the justice minister as well as police and National Guard officers at the news conference.

Chavez praised it as a “clean operation,” noting that no one was killed.

Ramos said he was enjoying being back with his family, and planned to start training Monday to play with his Venezuelan team, the Aragua Tigres, on Wednesday.

He said he didn’t plan to travel to Washington for now. “I want to stay here to give them that, to the Venezuelan people … so that they can see me play here.”

After his rescue was announced Friday night, Ramos’ mother, Maria Campos de Ramos, celebrated, exclaiming on television: “Thanks to God!”

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo also celebrated the news.

“He asked me to thank all who played a role in his rescue, and all those who kept him and his family in their thoughts and prayers,” Rizzo said in a statement. “I join Wilson in thanking the many law enforcement officials in Venezuela and investigators with Major League Baseball who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive ending to what has been a frightening ordeal.”

Security has increasingly become a concern for Venezuelan players and their families as a swelling wave of kidnappings has hit the country’s wealthy and middle class in recent years. Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in Latin America, and the vast majority of crimes go unsolved.

Major League Baseball officials said it was the first kidnapping of a major leaguer that they could recall. But relatives of several players in Venezuela have previously been kidnapped for ransom, and in two cases have been killed.

Bodyguards typically shadow major leaguers when they return to their homeland to play in Venezuela’s league.

“They didn’t physically harm me, but psychologically I underwent very great harm,” Ramos said. “I was always praying to God, and thanks to God he gave me the miracle of sending me these wonderful people.”

He saluted his rescuers, saying: “I’m alive thanks to them.”

Associated Press writer Jorge Rueda in Caracas and AP sports writers Howard Fendrich in Washington and Ron Blum in New York contributed to this report.

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Re: The MLB Thread

Axlin16 wrote:

New look Miami Marlins make colorful splash
by Joe Frisaro /


MIAMI -- More than just a name changed Friday night.

At a gala event, more than 700 guests and a large media contingent witnessed the unveiling of the Miami Marlins.

The historic occasion took place at New Marlins Ballpark, which is 85 percent completed.

Team owner Jeffrey Loria formally introduced the name change, which led in to the unveiling of the team's new logo and uniforms.

"The dream of our fans has finally come true, with the approaching of the opening of our sparkling new stadium," Loria told the crowd. "The Marlins Ballpark, the coolest ballpark ever."

Before the change became official, video snapshots were shown on the giant scoreboard of the franchise's first 19 seasons.

Swapping out the Florida Marlins for the Miami Marlins was part of the agreement with local officials when funding for the new ballpark was approved a few years ago.

The team's new colors are black, yellow, orange and blue.

"It's about Miami," Loria said. "It's the coolest place ever. Miami has a certain flavor."

Friday capped a busy week in which the Marlins entertained high-profile free agents Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols, who was in town on Friday and left in the evening.

As a lead up to the name change, the Marlins hosted a Fish and Chips fundraiser for the Marlins Community Foundation on Thursday night at the ballpark. Technically, it was the first team function at the baseball-only ballpark. Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck and Omar Infante were among the players in attendance.


The fundraiser was in a large tent outside New Marlins Ballpark, which remains on schedule and on budget to open in March 2012.

"This is the first event at the new ballpark, and it's exciting," team president David Samson said Thursday night. "Seeing people parked in the garages is unbelievably exciting. Seeing people come here, experiencing the ballpark -- this is what we've been looking forward to for a lot of years."

The rebranding of the franchise comes after 19 seasons of the team playing at spacious Sun Life Stadium, located in no-frills Miami Gardens, near the Broward County and Miami-Dade County lines.

The Florida Marlins have always shared their home with the Miami Dolphins, who control Sun Life Stadium. The Marlins compiled a 1,435-1,575 all-time record, and they won World Series championships in 1997 and 2003.

Moving to the Little Havana section of Miami brings the franchise closer to the glitz of South Beach and the inner-city feel of downtown Miami.

"I think they'll do well," said former Marlins manager Jack McKeon, who once again is a special adviser to Loria. "I think the club will draw much better. I think the revenues will be increased. I think they will be in position to spend some money to retain their players and get some free agents. I think it's going to be a successful operation."

New Marlins Ballpark alone promises to be a selling point. The Marlins are looking to dramatically upgrade their roster, and the current players are welcoming anyone wanting to be part of the club's new beginning.

"Anybody that wants to come, and if you're good, come on over," Morrison said. "I want to win."

From the fans' perspective, the ballpark offers a complete upgrade over Sun Life Stadium. For the first time, Marlins fans don't have to worry about rain delays or enduring the excessive South Florida summer heat.

The seats are wider, and they're all angled toward home plate.

The new building already is being used in the recruitment of players.

On Tuesday, left-hander Buehrle got a stadium tour. The same routine was done on Wednesday for shortstop Reyes, who is also testing the market. On Thursday, team officials flew to the Dominican Republic to attend the workout of center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, a Cuban defector who is expected to be declared a free agent later this month.

The rebranding of the Marlins, and their new ballpark, promise to be an attraction to players and fans.

First baseman Gaby Sanchez, who grew up in Miami, says the building alone will attract top talent to the Marlins.

"I don't think you really have to talk up anything," Sanchez said. "I think this stadium says it all by itself."

With their new logo and uniforms, the team will sport a fresh look.

After Friday's announcement, new Marlins merchandise went on sale at 11 p.m. ET at the ballpark. It will remain on sale at the stadium through Sunday.

On Saturday, Marlins gear will be on sale at select South Florida outlets -- Sawgrass Mills (12801 Sunrise Blvd.), Dolphin Mall (11401 NW 12th St. in Miami), Aventura Mall (19501 Biscayne Blvd.) and the Marlins en Miami Store (3701 SW 8th St.).

Marlins players will be on hand at several locations. Johnson and Nolasco are expected at Sawgrass from noon-1 p.m. From 12:45 p.m.-1:45 p.m., Infante, Gaby Sanchez and Ramirez are scheduled to be at Dolphin Mall, and Buck and Anibal Sanchez are slated to visit the Marlins en Miami Store from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

"Judging by sales and judging by the general excitement around our team, I'd say people are feeling pretty good," Samson said.


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Re: The MLB Thread

Axlin16 wrote:

I actually think the orange alternate jersey's look pretty bad ass. I don't like the big M, but I do like the new Marlin itself logo. Real art deco-inspired. Real cool.

The thing that always bugged me about the more modern Marlins jerseys were the fact that they were too bland. Too boring. IT'S MIAMI BABY! You know, MI "fun in the sun" AMI?

They have needed more color in their uniforms for years. More flash. Years ago they had teal alternate jersey's and teal alternate hats that were the coolest they ever looked. The players eventually thought they were too gay looking and wanted to abandon them and they do.

These new orange jerseys bring that back, and I think that's great.

Right now prices are HIGH on this new stuff, but I think i'm gonna grab one of the alternate hats when they come down on the prices.


I like those ALOT!

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Re: The MLB Thread

Axlin16 wrote:

Iconic Free Agent Albert Pujols receives offer from Marlins
by Steven Wine / AP Sports


MIAMI (AP)—A surprising visit by Albert Pujols sent a message: The Miami Marlins will be a much different franchise than the Florida Marlins.

Pujols picked an unlikely locale to begin his free-agent tour Friday when he was courted in Miami by the Marlins, only hours before they officially changed their name during a ceremony at their new ballpark. Pujols had lunch with team officials, checked out the stadium and received a contract offer.

The notoriously thrifty franchise, suddenly in the mood for a spending spree, declined to disclose details of the contract proposal. Free agents Jose Reyes and left-hander Mark Buehrle also received offers after taking ballpark tours earlier this week.

“We’ve never been penny-pinchers,” owner Jeffrey Loria said. “We just haven’t had the ability to do it in the old stadium. Now we’re looking forward to a new era.”

The 31-year-old Pujols, a three-time NL MVP, is a free agent for the first time after spending his first 11 major league seasons with St. Louis. Pujols and the Cardinals didn’t discuss a contract extension during the season, which ended with a World Series title, but he hasn’t ruled out remaining in St. Louis.

“We’re just going to see where God takes us,” Pujols said last week.

It could be Miami, now that the Marlins have become aggressive free-agent shoppers. They expect crowds of more than 30,000 nightly next season, meaning a revenue increase that will allow the frugal franchise to be more active in free agency.

Loria and a contingent of team officials even visited the Dominican Republic on Thursday to watch a private workout by highly regarded Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

“We’re looking at everyone,” Loria said. “We want to make this team as special as we can. We would be foolish not to entertain the possibility of some of these players. It’s just one of those things that mean you’re going forward. We’ve had our hands tied for a long time. With this new stadium we want to step into a new light.”

New manager Ozzie Guillen is expected to help recruiting efforts.

“Miami is a magnet—the city, the manager, the new ballpark, the players we have,” Loria said. “We have a terrific core here. All of it put together is the magnet.”

The Marlins are expected to increase their payroll from $57 million this year to at least $80 million in 2012. Signing Pujols would likely mean spending even more.

Marlins president David Samson made it sound unlikely that the team would be willing to pay all three veterans they’re courting if Pujols, Reyes and Buehrle accept offers.

“It’s a problem we never suspected could happen,” Samson said. “It didn’t even occur to me. We have a first choice, a 1A and a 1B after 1. This week did not happen by accident. We knew who we wanted to see, and when we wanted to see them.”

Pujols would be the big prize. The Cardinals exercised a $16 million option on his contract after last season. The slugger rejected a multiyear extension that included a small percentage of the franchise during the winter, and cut off negotiations on the first day of spring training.

Pujols’ numbers in nearly every major offensive category are on a three-year decline, but he remains among the game’s elite players. He hit 37 home runs this year, running the 30-homer streak to 11 years, and batted .299 with 99 RBIs. He led the Cardinals’ improbable late-season surge and became only the third player to hit three home runs in a World Series game.

Loria said the meeting with Pujols went well.

“He’s terrific,” Loria said. “I can only tell you that he loved the stadium, he liked being here, he liked the flavor of Miami. We’re hopeful some of these deals will happen.”

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Re: The MLB Thread

slashsfro wrote:
Axlin08 wrote:
faldor wrote:

Looks like Papelbon is leaving the Sox to sign with the Phillies.  He's good, but he's not THAT good.  Philly is overpaying for him, but someone always does in free agency.  That's the name of the game.

The Phillies deserve to be ripped off. No closer/relief pitcher in the history of God and man, deserves ANY KIND of deal that pays them into the double-digits per year, including legends like Trevor Hoffman & Mariano Rivera.

WHY? They are a RELIEVER! Why should a pitcher, who only has to get THREE OUTS 4-5 games a week, makes right at or more money than a Starter?

It's just a brain dead proposition to me and it always has been.

The Phils will never EVER get their money's worth out of that deal. Never. Papelbon is a VERY good closer, but anytime one of these relievers get a huge deal in Free Agency, it never pays off for the team who signed them.

My thoughts exactly.  The Pirates have had a shitty team for the last twenty years and they usually just recycle guys from the trash heap.  They usually end up signing a bunch of guys who have some sort of good track record to minor league deals.  That's one of the few things they've done well.

I guess what most teams don't realize is that relief pitching is very volitale.  It's very high risk to be handing out multi year contracts to a guy whose stats could be replicated by another player for far less.

The Phillies must be made of money or something.  They always seem to spend every offseason.  They still have to sign Rollins and add an OF.  And yet with all these signings, they only have 1 World Series title to show for it.

Axlin08 wrote:

I actually think the orange alternate jersey's look pretty bad ass. I don't like the big M, but I do like the new Marlin itself logo. Real art deco-inspired. Real cool.

I was looking at this and it just hit me this shade of orange looks a lot like the stuff the Hurricanes wear.

I like it a lot better now when I first saw it.  At least it's not bad like the late 80s early 90s Bucs orange uniforms.   The new logo looks pretty cool though as you say.

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Re: The MLB Thread

Axlin16 wrote:

I know Loria wants to make a big splash with the new ballpark, new name, new look Marlins like they are gonna be a serious competitor against the Phillies & Braves in the NL East, and they very well might, but...

No way do I see Pujols signing with the Fish. I think Prince Fielder might be more up their alley. Unless Loria offers Pujols the full 8-year / $320 million dollar deal and throws up Miami, the hispanic culture, and Ozzie Guillen being his manager as the reasons to do it in a now "Tony LaRussa-less" MLB.

I still don't see him doing it. Pujols is gonna want to go where the spotlight is at, and that's NOT the Marlins, even with a new attitude. As to where that will be, we'll... Chicago, Boston, and LA are all good guesses. Yankees don't need him, and the Mets... shit... the Marlins would be a better option. St. Louis ain't gonna go that high, even if Pujols comes down to $30mil a year.

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Re: The MLB Thread

slashsfro wrote:
Axlin08 wrote:

I know Loria wants to make a big splash with the new ballpark, new name, new look Marlins like they are gonna be a serious competitor against the Phillies & Braves in the NL East, and they very well might, but...

No way do I see Pujols signing with the Fish. I think Prince Fielder might be more up their alley. Unless Loria offers Pujols the full 8-year / $320 million dollar deal and throws up Miami, the hispanic culture, and Ozzie Guillen being his manager as the reasons to do it in a now "Tony LaRussa-less" MLB.

I still don't see him doing it. Pujols is gonna want to go where the spotlight is at, and that's NOT the Marlins, even with a new attitude. As to where that will be, we'll... Chicago, Boston, and LA are all good guesses. Yankees don't need him, and the Mets... shit... the Marlins would be a better option. St. Louis ain't gonna go that high, even if Pujols comes down to $30mil a year.

Yeah, it looks like one of those things where I think they'll say they tried but got turned down.

The market for Pujols is kinda weird because the Yankees and Red Sox aren't really in it.  I could see the Angels sneaking in there, but they gotta trim a bunch of payroll.  The owner said that the payroll would remain the same so if they want to sign Pujols they gotta move some people.  Makes the Vernon Wells-Napoli trade even stupider in retrospect.

Don't see the Rangers getting in it.  The Mets will be doing the opposite as they'll lose Reyes and trade Wright for a bunch of prospects.  Here's one you didn't mention:  Washington Nationals.  They got money and are in a big market.  They overpaid Werth last year and they're still looking for something to hook in the fans.  The drawback is the home park is a pitcher's park.  Too bad the White Sox have a bunch of bad contracts on the books as this is the type of gamble Kenny Williams likes to make.

If he leaves STL, Cubs (they got a ton of cash coming off the books), Nationals or LAA would be the frontrunners.

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Re: The MLB Thread

Axlin16 wrote:

I know it's weird isn't it? I would've always thought Pujols would've been a sweepstakes party like Beltran was. No dice. I don't see Pujols going for the Nats. Yeah they've got money-to-burn, but Pujols ain't Werth. Pujols wants to be where the spotlight is, and DC ain't it, despite being a big market.

I think it's gonna boil down to either re-signing with the Cards with a substantial discount, or going for the gold and jumping rivalries with the re-tooled "new Red Sox" Cubs.

The Marlins might be an X-factor in the mix that might jump into a potential bidding war with the Cubs.

Outside of that, I don't see ANYONE else jumping in. The Angels have too much bad paper, plus they are secondary to the Rangers in the last couple years in the AL West, I don't see that appealing to Pujols.

As for the Rangers, I think they'll make a BIG push for Fielder. Cheaper than Pujols, the Rangers need a powerful 1B (a Mitch Moreland/Mike Napoli platoon ain't gonna get it done). Plus they can alternate Fielder back and forth between 1B & DH as he gets older, bigger, and slower which is a virtual lock. I just think Fielder has Texas written all over him. However in the off-chance that Pujols re-signs with the Cards, then I think Fielder signing with the Cubs is a lock.

You're right about the White Sox tho. Kenny loves these kind of guys like Pujols and Fielder. If he hadn't Dunnmped his resources into Dunn, which was a total disaster, then he would SO be in on the sweepstakes, and doing everything he could to steal Pujols away from the Cubs.

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Re: The MLB Thread

Axlin16 wrote:

Heard the Rangers were now considering jumping into the Pujols sweepstakes.

Hmm... didn't see that. The rumor apparently is that Ryan just can't get past that 3 HR night during the Series, and wants Pujols in Rangers Red & Blue.

 Rep: 768 

Re: The MLB Thread

Axlin16 wrote:

Cardinals choose Matheny as LaRussa's successor
by R.B. Fallstrom / AP Sports


ST. LOUIS (AP)—Mike Matheny settled into Tony La Russa’s desk chair in a freshly painted office minus all the knickknacks accumulated over 16 years by his predecessor. The stuffed tiger from the 2006 World Series title, the bust of TLR’s favorite dog, the piles and piles of books—all gone.

A blank slate—just like the St. Louis Cardinals new manager, who has never filled out a lineup card in the majors.

Not that he hasn’t thought about it.

“I loved spending the time I had with Tony talking about managing, and he knew that,” Matheny said Monday after getting a two-year contract with a club option for a third season. “He’s been advocate for a long time, someone that’s been promoting me.”

General manager John Mozeliak offered Matheny the job last Friday while he was in the Dominican Republic with Albert Pujols but told Matheny to say nothing until Monday.

Mozeliak envisioned Matheny as manager material when he rejoined the organization two years ago. Matheny was a special assistant in player development last year and previously had been a minor league instructor.

Mozeliak knew there’d be questions about Matheny’s lack of experience but pointed out when he replaced Walt Jocketty four years ago, he, too, was unproven.

“That’s something I’ve experienced myself, and I know what it’s like going from maybe a less leadership role to one where you’re thrust into it,” Mozeliak said. “I think he has that skill set.”

Mozeliak also believes Matheny is a good fit for this team because of its blend of veterans and youth, and because the rotation is set.

“A Matt Holliday and a Lance Berkman, they don’t need to be over-managed if you will,” Mozeliak said. “So I think he’s going to be able to put his energy into the players that most need it, and to the team itself. That was something we factored in.”

Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said Matheny is well-respected throughout baseball, and the Cardinals background doesn’t hurt.

“He knows our current club and organization as well as anyone, and we feel he is the perfect one to lead us into a very bright future,” DeWitt said.

As for his managing style, Matheny said he’d rely on instincts honed from his playing days.

“I believe I owe this organization to be myself,” Matheny said. “I’m not here to try and clone Tony or any other manager or coach, but I believe I’m a collection of all the above.”

Holliday and World Series MVP David Freese attended Monday’s news conference, held in the same room where La Russa said his good-byes two weeks earlier. Both escaped via a side door without talking to reporters.

Mozeliak and DeWitt said Matheny, who won three of his four Gold Gloves with the Cardinals from 2000-04, stood out from a group of candidates that began with about 35 names in mid-August when the 67-year-old La Russa first announced his intentions. The final six included Terry Francona, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and longtime Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo.

The Cardinals expect to complete its coaching staff by the weekend, and it could include at least two holdovers from the La Russa era. Mozeliak said pitching coach Dave Duncan, who is signed for next season, should be back, and Oquendo also could return.

Mozeliak said he was in contact with La Russa during the interview process.

“I don’t know if the word consulting is right,” Mozeliak said. “He was someone I kept abreast of the process. I always welcome his opinion.”

Matheny is the Cardinals’ youngest manager since Jack Krol, also 41, in 1978.

Matheny’s playing career blossomed after he signed a one-year free-agent deal to be the backup catcher in St. Louis. Though a career .239 hitter, Matheny did enough defensively to earn a starting job. Matheny was with the Giants when his career was ended by concussions in 2006. He said he’s been symptom free for about 1 1/2 years.

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