Tagged in: mound

Los Angeles Dodgers add reliever Dellin Betances on minor league deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers, looking to deepen their pitching staff with low-risk, high-reward signings, have agreed to a minor league contract with four-time All-Star Dellin Betances, a source confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.

Betances, 34, can earn a prorated portion of a $2.75 million base salary if he reaches the major leagues, with an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses, according to the New York Post.

Betances was one of the sport’s most dominant relievers while with the New York Yankees from 2014 to 2018, posting a 2.22 ERA with 607 strikeouts in 373⅓ innings. But the 6-foot-8, 265-pound right-hander has made only 17 appearances over the past three years, and there’s no set timetable for his return to the major leagues.

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Betances has been off a mound this offseason, but the Dodgers need a longer look to determine how far he is from tapping back into some of his prime form.

Betances spent the first 5½ months of the 2019 campaign rehabbing a right shoulder impingement and a strained lat, then returned on Sept. 15 and tore his left Achilles tendon on his eighth pitch, ending his season for good.

He then struggled through a 7.71 ERA in 11⅔ innings with the New York Mets during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and made only one major league appearance in 2021, opting for season-ending shoulder surgery at the end of June.

Betances joins a handful of rehabbing pitchers who might evolve into major contributors in the Dodgers’ bullpen later this season, involving Danny Duffy and Dustin May, traditional starting pitchers who probably won’t be stretched out enough to reenter the rotation in 2022.

The Dodgers also employ Tommy Kahnle, who is nearing his return from Tommy John surgery, and have re-signed Jimmy Nelson, who will spend most of this campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery but could factor into the mix in 2023.

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Jon Lester makes Washington Nationals debut 2 weeks after surgery

Jon Lester was back on a mound Thursday, wearing a Washington Nationals uniform while facing opposing batters for the first time in spring training and striking out a couple during his two innings, less than two weeks after surgery to remove a parathyroid gland.

“Baseball, for me, is an escape. I come to the field, I’ve got stuff I need to do. I forget about this,” Lester said, pointing the scar on the front of his throat, after Washington’s 3-1 exhibition victory versus the New York Mets at Port St. Lucia, Florida.

“So you dive into that routine,” the 37-year-old left-hander said.

Wearing a red Nationals No. 34 uniform, Bryce Harper’s old number, along with a green hat the day after St. Patrick’s Day, Lester permitted one run and one hit while throwing 31 pitches, 21 for strikes.

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He went to 0-2 counts on each of the first three Mets hitters, getting the first two out before walking J.D. Davis and giving up a first-pitch RBI double to James McCann. Then Lester pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, and that was that.

His operation was March 5 for hyperparathyroidism, which can affect the amount of calcium levels in the bloodstream and lead to someone tiring easily.

Lester said he had a hard time sleeping Wednesday night.

“Regardless of the surgery, there was still excitement leading up to this day. New team. … I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous,” said Lester, who signed as a free agent with Washington for one year and $5 million after six seasons and one World Series title with the Chicago Cubs. “I had the butterflies, which is always good.”

Another important takeaway: Lester thinks he’ll “be in a good position” to be ready when the regular season starts April 1.

Manager Dave Martinez agreed, figuring Lester should be up to about 75 pitches after three more exhibition starts.

“We’ll see how he gets up tomorrow,” Martinez said. “But I think he’s on the right track.”

Lester took it as a good sign that his changeup worked well. That’s usually the last pitch that gets into gear. “It’s definitely been a point of emphasis, as far as in my bullpens and just really playing catch with it,” Lester said.

“So it was nice to see the results, the couple swing and misses, out in front, and got maybe a couple foul balls on it.”

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