Adrian Beltre Officially Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

Adrian Beltre is officially a Hall of Famer

The 45-year-old Dominican former professional baseball third baseman and Texas Rangers great was officially welcomed into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday during the annual induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center.

Adrian BeltreBeltre, who finished his 21-year career with 3,166 hits and five Gold Gloves at third base, was enshrined along with Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer and Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, the latter pair becoming baseball’s newest one-team Hall of Famers. That puts the Hall’s membership at 273 among those who entered as players.

Also inducted was longtime manager Jim Leyland, who piloted four teams, including the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins. Leyland represented the Detroit Tigers, whom he managed from 2006 to 2013 and led to a pair of American League pennants.

Beltre struck a playful tone with many of his remarks, which he said were “maybe 25%” improvised. He was perhaps buoyed by Hall of Famer David Ortiz, who approached Beltre on stage and patted him on the head. Beltre is famously averse to having his head touched.

“That never relaxes me,” Beltre said. “But it was a little c,ue to go back to the days when I was playing, and it’s like ‘OK, get ready to go out there and do your best with the speech.'”

Beltre, who played with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox and Rangers, is one of only two players to have over 3,000 hits, 400 homers and at least five Gold Gloves. The other was Willie Mays, who was recognized before the speeches, along with the other Hall of Famers who died since last year’s induction: Whitey Herzog, Brooks Robinson and Orlando Cepeda.

Beltre is the fifth player born in the Dominican Republic to be enshrined, the last being Ortiz — a member of the 2022 Hall class. As with Ortiz, there was a sizable contingent of Dominican fans on hand, along with a strong turnout of Texas fans.

While acknowledging some of his former teammates, Beltre cited retired ace “King FelixHernandez, whom he played with in Seattle.

“To that guy who call himself ‘King,'” Beltre said. “I loved [playing] with you. But I loved hitting against you even more.”

The 2½-hour event unfolded under pleasant skies in Cooperstown, a welcome respite for an event that has often taken place in broiling conditions.

Yordan Alvarez Hits Two 461-Foot Homers in Houston Astros 12-4 Win Over Colorado Rockies

It’s an impressive double for Yordan Alvarez.

The 26-year-old Cuban professional baseball designated hitter and left fielder for the Houston Astros hit two home runs on Saturday night in the MLB World Tour: Mexico City Series to help the team snap a five-game losing streak.

Yordan AlvarezKyle Tucker added a solo shot to help the Astros beat the Colorado Rockies 12-4.

Alvarez hit a two-run homer to center field and Tucker followed with a shot to left field and the Astros took a 4-2 lead in the third. Alvarez hit his seventh home run of the season in the ninth inning.

Both of Alvarez’s shots were measured at 461 feet. He became the third player since 2006 to hit multiple 460-foot homers in a game, joining Mike Napoli (2013) and Byron Buxton (2023). And he also became the sixth player in MLB history with a multi-HR game in Mexico.

“Today we were able to bat with runners in scoring positions, that’s a good sign for the team,” manager Joe Espada said. “We took strong turns and we were able to spread the ball on the field, that really helped us today.”

Alvarez went 3 for 5 with three RBI and two runs scored and Yainer Diaz had three hits and scored three runs.

“When we saw the introductions, we knew that it was a moment to think that the season was just beginning for us,” Alvarez said. “We knew that we were struggling, but we trust in the team’s talent.”

Ronel Blanco (3-0) allowed two hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked two.

The Rockies’ Cal Quantrill (0-3) allowed six hits and six earned runs in five innings.

“We have not played to our standards, but hopefully we get there,” said Rockies manager Bud Black. “For me, all was positive (from the game in Mexico) except for the outcome.”

Houston arrived in Mexico City after scoring just six runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs, but the team took advantage of the 7,349-foot elevation of the Alfredo Harp Helú stadium to break the offensive slump with 15 hits against the Rockies.

The Astros also benefited from the support of the crowd, most of them wearing the team’s colors even though the Rockies were the home team.

“We did not feel like the visiting team, we felt at home. There was a tremendous passion and energy in the stadium, and it really felt like home,” Espada said.

The Rockies took the lead on Ryan McMahon‘s two-run homer to center field in the first.

The Astros pulled ahead for good after Alvarez and Tucker hit their homers in the third.

The series marks the Astros’ second regular-season visit to Mexico. In May 2019, they swept the Angels in two games played in Monterrey. The Astros also played exhibition games in Mexico against the Padres in 2016 and Marlins in 2004.

The Rockies, who came south of the border after beating the Padres 10-9 at Coors Field, have yet to win consecutive games this season, the longest such stretch to begin a season in franchise history.

Colorado played their second regular-season game in Mexico. In 1999, they beat San Diego in their season opener, also at Monterrey.

Ezequiel Tovar Agrees to $63.5 million, Seven-Year Contract Extension with Colorado Rockies

Ezequiel Tovar is extending his stay…

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball shortstop has finalized a $63.5 million, seven-year contract extension with the Colorado Rockies, a deal that includes a team option for 2031 that, if exercised, would boost the agreement to $84 million over eight seasons.

Ezequiel Tovar,

Tovar gets a $1.5 million signing bonus and salaries of $1.5 million this season, $4 million in 2025, $5 million in 2026, $8 million in 2027, $11 million in 2028, $14 million in 2029 and $16 million in 2030. The Rockies’ option is for $23 million with a $2.5 million buyout.

Tovar’s deal supersedes a one-year contract agreed to on February 29 that called for a $745,000 salary while in the major leagues and $361,000 while in the minors.

“He has already proven he is one of the best shortstops in baseball, and we see him as a cornerstone of this franchise for years to come,” Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt said in a statement.

Tovar, a Venezuela native, made his big league debut on September 22, 2022, and last year he became the youngest Rockies player to start on Opening Day at 21 years, 240 days.

He hit .253 with 15 homers, 73 RBIs and 11 stolen bases last season. He had 166 strikeouts and 25 walks. His .988 fielding percentage set a record for a rookie shortstop, topping .987 by the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki in 2007.

Tovar signed with the Rockies in 2017 for an $800,000 bonus.

Texas Rangers Sign Diego Castillo to Minor League Deal

Diego Castillo has joined the Texas Rangers organization…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher, a veteran reliever, is among seven free agents who’ve signed minor league contracts with the Texas Rangers that include invitations to spring training with the World Series champions.

Diego Castillo, The Rangers announced the signings Wednesday of Castillo and two other right-handed pitchers, Gerardo Carrillo and Jesus Tinoco, along with catcher Andrew Knapp and outfielders Sandro Fabian, Elier Hernandez and Derek Hill.

Castillo has a 24-18 record with 35 saves and 3.22 ERA over six big league seasons with Tampa Bay Rays (2018-21) and Seattle Mariners (2021-23), with opponents hitting only .200 against him. The right-hander, who turns 30 on January 18, allowed six earned runs over 8⅔ innings in eight relief appearances for the Mariners last season.

Tinoco had a 2.93 ERA in 38 appearances this year for the Saitama Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization in Japan. Before that, he made 48 appearances over four big league seasons with the Colorado Rockies (2019-21), Miami Marlins (2021) and Texas (2022). He pitched in 17 games for the Rangers, and in one of his two starts allowed the 62nd home run hit by New York Yankees star Aaron Judge to break the AL single-season record.

Rangers pitchers and catchers will have their first spring training workout in Surprise, Arizona, on February 14.

The first full-squad workout is scheduled for February 19.

Gerardo Parra Named New First-Base Coach for Washington Nationals

Gerardo Parra has landed his first Major League Baseball coaching job.

The 36-year-old Venezuelan former professional baseball outfielder will be the new first-base coach for the Washington Nationals as part of a series of changes to manager Dave Martinez‘s staff announced by the club on Friday after a fourth consecutive last-place finish in the NL East.

Gerardo ParraParra played for the Arizona DiamondbacksMilwaukee BrewersBaltimore OriolesColorado RockiesSan Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals, as well for the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). Parra is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner and won the 2019 World Series as a member of the Nationals.

Miguel Cairo will be Martinez’s bench coach and Ricky Gutierrez is shifting to third-base coach after holding the title of run prevention coordinator in 2023. Chris Johnson was hired as assistant hitting coach.

Holdovers include hitting coach Darnell Coles, pitching coach Jim Hickey, catching and strategy coach Henry Blanco and bullpen coach Ricky Bones.

This is Parra’s first job on an MLB coaching staff. After retiring in 2021, he started working in the Nationals’ front office in 2022. Parra played in the majors for 12 years and signed with Washington in 2019 as a backup outfielder. His choice of “Baby Shark” as his walkup music — a nod to his 2-year-old daughter — became a rallying cry for fans and players while the club won its first championship that season.

Cairo, also a former player, was the minor league infield coordinator for the New York Mets last season. Before that, he was the bench coach for the Chicago White Sox for two seasons.

Coles, Hickey, Blanco and Bones head into their third season in these roles with Washington.

The Nationals did not renew the contracts of bench coach Tim Bogar, third-base coach Gary DiSarcina, first-base coach Eric Young Jr. and assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler.

The Nationals went 71-91 in 2023 as general manager Mike Rizzo continues to try to remake their roster. In the National League, only the Colorado Rockies finished with a worse record this year.

Rizzo and Martinez both got new contracts during the season.

Rizzo has been the team’s GM since 2007. He hired Martinez for his first managerial job before the 2018 season.

Los Angeles Dodgers Retire Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 Jersey

Fernando Valenzuela has received a special honor for the Los Angeles Dodgers

The team retired the 62-year-old Mexican former professional baseball pitcher’s No. 34 jersey on Friday night before hosting the Colorado Rockies. His number was cut into the center-field grass and stenciled in white on the back of the mound.

Fernando Valenzuela“It’s very emotional,” Valenzuela told a crowded room of English and Spanish-language media before the ceremony. “I never expected it.”

Retired pitcher and current broadcaster Orel Hershiser and retired Dodger Manny Mota lifted off a blue cloth to reveal Valenzuela’s number high above the field.

Fans, some wearing sombreros, were on their feet cheering, along with Valenzuela’s children and grandchildren. He held hands with wife Linda as they walked down the left-field line to watch the unveiling.

Earlier, a mariachi band broke out in music and song as Valenzuela was introduced and walked from the dugout to the stage set up in front of the mound.

Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, Valenzuela’s catcher Mike Scioscia, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrín and Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías were among those on hand.

Valenzuela and Scioscia appeared on a Topps baseball card in which they were labeled future stars. After his playing career, Scioscia managed the Los Angeles Angels.

“It seems like yesterday when this little pudgy kid who was 20 years old started Opening Day for us and lights the whole world on fire,” Scioscia told the crowd. “What you couldn’t see was the ice water in his veins. He proved how spectacular and magical everything was.”

After the ceremony, Valenzuela tossed a first pitch to Scioscia, who bobbled the catch and buried his face in his glove.

The Rockies watched from the railing in the visitor’s dugout, while some of the Dodgers were on the field warming up and a few looked on from the dugout.

Earlier in the day, Valenzuela was in downtown Los Angeles, where the city council declared it “Fernando Valenzuela Day.”

The activities were part of a weekend celebration of one of the most enduring and popular players in Dodgers history. Valenzuela was the theme of the postgame drone show.

On Saturday, the team is giving away his bobblehead and on Sunday, the giveaway is a replica of Valenzuela’s 1981 World Series ring.

Valenzuela became a sensation that year. Besides winning the World Series, he won Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award, the first player to do so in the same year.

He was named the Opening Day starter that year by manager Tommy Lasorda after Jerry Reuss got hurt a day earlier. He responded with a 2-0 victory over Houston, beginning the season with an 8-0 record, including five shutouts, and an 0.50 ERA.

“Tommy Lasorda came up to me and said, ‘Are you ready to pitch tomorrow?’ I said, ‘I’m ready,'” Valenzuela recalled. “That’s what I was looking for, the opportunity to show what I can do.”

Valenzuela’s pitching motion — glancing skyward at the apex of each windup — was a hit, too. His signature pitch was the screwball, taught to him by teammate Bobby Castillo in 1979.

During his warmups, ABBA‘s hit “Fernando” blared from the speakers.

The native of Mexico was credited for drawing large numbers of Latino fans to Dodger Stadium and they nicknamed him “El Toro” — the Bull. He proved a huge draw on the road as well.

His number joins previous honorees Pee Wee Reese, Lasorda, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Jim Gilliam, Don Sutton, Walter Alston, Koufax, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Don Drysdale and Hall of Fame broadcasters Vin Scully and Jarrín.

Jarrín “helped me a lot early in my career talking to you guys,” Valenzuela said, referring to the translation the broadcaster did for English-speaking media.

Besides Lasorda and Jarrín, Valenzuela also credited Mike Brito, the scout who in Mexico found the left-handed pitcher, for boosting his career. Brito died last year at age 87.

Valenzuela also won the 1988 World Series with the Dodgers, as well as Silver Slugger awards in 1981 and 1983. He pitched for the team from 1980 to 1990, including a no-hitter on June 29, 1990. He retired in 1997.

Valenzuela has stayed close to the franchise. He is the color commentator on the Spanish-language broadcasts for its SportsNet LA cable channel.

He remains among the franchise leaders in wins (141), strikeouts (1,759), innings pitched (2,348⅔), starts (320), complete games (107) and shutouts (29).

Valenzuela became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2015.

Houston’s Yainer Díaz Records His First Two-Homer Game in Astros Win Over the Colorado Rockies

It’s a special first for Yainer Díaz… a two-home run game!

The 24-year-old Dominican professional baseball catcher homered in his first two at-bats and Jeremy Peña added a two-run shot in his return from injury to lead the Houston Astros past the Colorado Rockies 6-4 on Wednesday.

Yainer DíazDíaz had a solo home run in the second inning and his two-run homer made it 3-0 in the fourth in his first career two-homer game.

“It was right on time,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He drove in all the first three runs with some booming home runs and we needed that.”

Peña’s home run came later in that inning to push the lead to 5-0. He returned after missing five games because of a stiff neck.

“I’m just glad I’m back out there with the guys,” he said. “Those five games were tough for me watching from the dugout, but the guys put together great games.”

The Rockies cut the lead to 1 on a homer by Randal Grichuk in the seventh, but Houston added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning to sweep the two-game series and secure a fourth straight victory.

It’s Houston’s seventh win in eight games.

C.J. Cron also homered for the Rockies, who dropped their 10th straight road game.

Houston starter J.P. France (4-3) allowed six hits and three runs in six innings. Ryan Pressly pitched a scoreless ninth for his 19th save.

It’s the seventh straight start of at least six innings for France, a rookie who has made 11 career starts.

“It was a grind but I ended up giving the team a chance to win again,” France said. “And I was able to just keep the streak rolling.”

Colorado’s Chase Anderson (0-4) yielded seven hits and five runs in four innings for his fourth straight loss. He has allowed 30 hits, 27 runs and eight homers in that span.

There was one out in the second when Díaz’s first homer put the Astros on top 1-0.

Kyle Tucker singled to open Houston’s fourth but was caught trying to steal second base. José Abreu singled to right field before Díaz connected again to make it 3-0.

Corey Julks singled with two outs and Peña pushed the lead to 5-0 when he sent Anderson’s next pitch into the seats in right field for his 10th homer this season.

Nolan Jones walked to start the fifth for Colorado before a one-out single by Ezequiel Tovar. A single by Harold Castro scored Jones to cut the lead to 5-1. A wild pitch by France left runners on second and third and Jurickson Profar made it 5-2 with an RBI single.

France limited the damage in the inning when Kris Bryant grounded into a double play.

Cron’s homer came with two outs in the sixth inning to get the Rockies within 5-3.

Hector Neris replaced France for the seventh and Grichuk sent his second pitch into the seats in left field to cut the lead to 1.

Julks and Peña hit consecutive singles with no outs in the seventh. Mauricio Dubón then lined a single to center field to score Julks and make it 6-4.

LA Angels New Addition Eduardo Escobar Placed on Restricted List as He Prepares for U.S. Citizenship Test

Eduardo Escobar is hitting the U.S. history books, not baseballs, these days…

Three days after the Los Angeles Angels acquired him from the New York Mets, the 34-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player has been placed on the restricted list.

Eduardo Escobar,The reason: Escobar is scheduled to take his United States citizenship test on Tuesday in Miami.

Escobar hails from Venezuela and now lives in Miami with his wife and children. The citizenship test was already in his plans before the Mets executed the trade.

The Angels have a home series against the Chicago White Sox beginning Monday night. Escobar could return Wednesday in time for the third game of a four-game series.

The Mets traded Escobar and cash considerations to the Angels on Friday night in exchange for Double-A right-handed pitchers Landon Marceaux and Coleman Crow.

Escobar’s Angels debut came in the team’s 25-1 thrashing of the Colorado Rockies on Saturday. Escobar did his part by going 2-for-4 with four runs and one RBI. He had another two hits in Sunday’s series finale, including a triple.

In 42 games with the Mets and Angels this season, Escobar is batting .254 with four home runs, 17 RBIs and 20 runs.

In a related move, Los Angeles recalled outfielder Jo Adell from Triple-A Salt Lake.

Adell, 24, has spent most of the season at Triple-A after playing 161 games for the Angels in his first three MLB seasons. In Adell’s lone major league game of 2023, he hit a solo home run in three at-bats during a 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on June 8.

Angels catcher Chris Okey also cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Salt Lake.

Yuli Gurriel Agrees to Minor League Contract with Miami Marlins Organization

Yuli Gurriel has a new deal…

The 38-year-old Cuban professional baseball first baseman, nicknamed “La Piña,” and José Iglesias have agreed to minor league contracts with the Miami Marlins organization.

Yuli GurrielGurriel won the World Series with the Houston Astros last year after hitting .242 with 40 doubles, eight home runs and 53 RBIs. In the postseason, he had 17 hits with a pair of home runs to help the Astros win their second title in six seasons.

Gurriel adds infield depth, and the Marlins could look for him to provide offense for a team that ranked in the bottom three in runs and slugging in 2022.

Born in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, Gurriel has a career .284 batting average.

It’s unclear where the Marlins could use Gurriel. Miami acquired 2022 American League batting champion Luis Arraez from the Minnesota Twins to play second base and moved Jazz Chisholm Jr. from second to center field.

Iglesias, 33, batted .292 last season with the Colorado Rockies and had a .981 fielding percentage as he made 116 starts at shortstop. Iglesias, who was born in La Habana, Cuba, has a .279 batting average. and .982 fielding percentage over 11 major league seasons with six teams.

Both players were to join the Marlins on Friday at their spring training facility. Miami opens the season March 30 at home against the New York Mets.

Sandy Alcantara Sweeps All First-Place Votes to Win National League Cy Young Award

It’s a clean sweep for Sandy Alcantara

The 27-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the Miami Marlins has become the first unanimous Cy Young Award winner in the National League since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.

Sandy Alcantara Alcantara, a right-hander, swept all 30 first-place votes to beat out Atlanta Braves lefty Max Fried and Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Julio Urias to become the first Cy Young winner in Marlins history.

With Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander also winning the AL Cy Young by unanimous vote, this marks just the second time that both Cy Young winners were unanimous. Bob Gibson and Denny McLain also won unanimously in 1968, one year after the award started to be given out to both leagues.

In this age of five-inning starters, Alcantara stood out like a unicorn: He pitched 228⅔ innings, 23⅔ more than other pitcher in the majors, and the most innings since David Price threw 230 in 2016. He threw six complete games — more than any other team. He pitched at least eight innings in 14 of his 32 starts, the most such games since 2014. His 8.0 WAR easily topped Aaron Nola’s 6.0 as the best in the NL and ranked as the best in Marlins history, ahead of Kevin Brown‘s 7.9 in 1996.

“I’m very happy with the type of season I was able to have this season,” Alcantara said in a video released when he won the Players Choice Award as the outstanding NL pitcher. “It’s like I’ve always told the media: My mentality is to be a lion on the mound, finish all my starts.”

Here’s another way to view Alcantara’s award: He had 16 starts of more than seven innings when you add in his two 7⅔-inning outings. Fried and Urias combined for just two outings of more than seven innings. It wasn’t just his ability to pitch deep into games that made Alcantara the Cy Young winner, however. His 2.28 ERA ranked second in the NL behind Urias’ 2.16, and he held batters to a .212 average with some of the most electric stuff in the majors.

“He’s throwing 100-plus mph and he’s got movement on that fastball,” St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said.

Indeed, Alcantara averaged just under 98 mph with his fastball (he throws both a four-seamer and sinker), but his game plan is a little different from a lot of modern pitchers. He induces a lot of soft contact rather than just racking up strikeouts — and thus avoids the high pitch counts that result from a lot of deep counts. As a result, he led all starters in averaging just 14.2 pitches per inning, allowing him to go deep into games. He still managed 207 strikeouts, including a season-high 14 in an eight-inning win over the Braves on May 28. “Sometimes with Sandy it looks like pitch and catch,” then-Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after that dominating victory.

Originally signed by the Cardinals out of the Dominican Republic, the Marlins acquired Alcantara after the 2017 season in a trade that sent Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis. Alcantara made the MLB All-Star team in 2019, his first full season in the majors, when he finished with a 3.88 ERA, and then had a big breakout in 2021, when he went 9-15 with a 3.19 ERA in 205 innings.

An improved changeup took him to another level this season, as batters hit just .145 against it with no home runs in 248 at-bats. It’s a power change that averaged 91.8 mph — yes, a 92 mph changeup. According to Statcast metrics, his changeup saved 25 runs, the most valuable changeup in the game in 2022.

Maybe the highlight of Alcantara’s season wasn’t one of his seven scoreless outings, but a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals on June 29. Leading 4-3 with runners at first and second and one out in the ninth and Alcantara at 115 pitches, Mattingly came out to apparently remove him from the game. Alcantara talked himself into staying in and two pitches later induced to a double play to end it.

“When he came to me, I said, ‘I got it. I got it.’ I think he has too much confidence in me to finish the game,” Alcantara said after that win. “I don’t have to worry when I have men on base. I know I can throw a strike and get a double play.”

“He said he had it, and he did,” Mattingly said. “I wasn’t going to promise him two hitters, but I gave him that one. He’s pretty special.”

Special enough that the extension the Marlins signed him to last November that runs through 2027 now looks like a bargain. With the Marlins now having a Cy Young winner, the only franchises without one are the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies.