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John Ryan Murphy, D-Backs reach $900,000, 1-year deal

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PHOENIX — Catcher John Ryan Murphy and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to a $900,000, one-year contract, a raise from his $558,000 salary last year.

The 27-year-old set career bests with nine homers and 24 RBI in 223 plate appearances, hitting .202. He split time behind the plate with Alex Avila and Jeff Mathis, who left for Texas.

Ten Diamondbacks remain eligible for Friday’s exchange of proposed arbitration salaries: outfielders David Peralta and Steven Souza; shortstop Nick Amed; third baseman Jake Lamb; right-handers Matt Andriese and Archie Bradley; and left-handers Andrew Chafin, T.J. McFarland and Robbie Ray.



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MLB Liam Hendriks Oakland Athletics ready to prove doubters wrong

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TOKYO — Amid all the hoopla surrounding Suzuki Ichiro’s return to Japan with the Seattle Mariners, it’s been easy to overlook something else: the Oakland Athletics are here, too.

The A’s are used to being seen as the also-rans, and even relish it. They were a playoff team last season — not the Mariners. And when “Ichiro-mania” subsides after the season-opening games in the Tokyo Dome on Wednesday and Thursday, the A’s will again be under-the-radar favorites.

“The A’s have always been an underdog organization no matter how you put it,” A’s pitcher Liam Hendriks said. “We enjoy proving people wrong.”

Teammate Stephen Piscotty, who is playing for his childhood team, put it a different way.

“I don’t think we care too much about how that’s viewed,” he said. “Last year’s expectations weren’t all that high, and we showed why that was wrong. We’re out this year to take down the division and just play our brand of baseball.”

Hendriks might be the quintessential Oakland A’s player.

He grew up in Perth, Australia, where he decided against Aussie Rules football to play baseball. He was cut twice from state baseball teams in Australia, but eventually the Minnesota Twins signed him in 2007.

“I told myself I’d give it a few years, and if I’m not as good as I think I am, I’ll go back to Australia and pick up again with Aussie Rules.”

He’s been traveling, but he’s still around after stints with the Twins — he called himself a “failed starting pitcher” there — to the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays — and now starting his fourth season with the A’s.

“I’ve been around,” he said. “There were a lot of teams that didn’t want me, but there were obviously teams that wanted me. Somebody saw something there.”

Hendriks has become a multi-functional pitcher. He’s was the opening pitcher in the A’s 7-2 wild-card playoff loss to the New York Yankees, giving up a two-run homer in the first inning to Aaron Judge. That was his only inning.

He’s basically a relief pitcher, but tries not to get hung up on terms; opener, starter, set-up man — you name it.

“My biggest goal as a starter or opener or whatever you want to call it is to go out there and get us a clean inning and get the next guy in,” he said. “It helps to be versatile.”

Hendriks started an exhibition game Sunday in a 5-1 victory over Japan’s Ham Fighters at the Tokyo Dome. He’ll be available in relief in the A’s two games with the Mariners.

“I need to go out there and be ready for anything, and expect any role,” he said.

That could include facing Ichiro in what could be his final at-bat — or not. The 45-year-old Ichiro has left everyone guessing about his plans after the two games in Japan.

“If you’re going to be overshadowed, it might as well be by the all-time hits leader in baseball,” Hendriks said. “We’re just happy to be along for the ride. I can’t wait for the opening series when they announce Ichiro and hear that crowd. I’m pretty excited for it.”

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Harper returns after HBP, still hitless in spring

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CLEARWATER, Fla. — Bryce Harper hopes to change all those zeros soon. No, not the ones in his contract.

Back in the lineup two days after being hit by a pitch in the ankle, the Phillies newcomer with the $330,000,000 deal was hitless Sunday, leaving him with a batting average of .000 in spring training.

Harper is 0-for-8 in 14 plate appearances over five exhibition games.

His goal for the final week in Florida? “Definitely getting a couple knocks,” Harper said.

“I don’t want to leave spring without a hit, but if that happens, then March 28, here we come,” Harper said.

That’s the day Philadelphia opens the regular season, at home against the NL East champion Atlanta Braves.

Harper returned as the designated hitter against the split-squad New York Yankees and went 0-for-3 with a walk. The star outfielder will play in a minor league game Monday, take Tuesday off and return to a major league game on Wednesday.

On Friday, Harper was hit in the right ankle by a 96 mph fastball from Toronto rookie Trent Thornton and left the game. The decision to let Harper play Sunday came after a pregame workout that included running and hitting.

“Felt good,” Harper said. “It was shocking I came in yesterday and not really any swelling, no bruising. Glad I was able to get out there and feel pretty normal.”

Batting third, Harper took a called third strike on a 96 mph fastball from James Paxton in the first. Harper then grounded out to shortstop on another 96 mph offering from the left-hander.

“The timing, definitely a little behind right now,” Harper said. “A little late on some of the pitches against Paxton today. It’s going to be a process.”

Harper, who agreed to a 13-year contract in late February — almost two weeks after spring training began — struck out swinging on a 90 mph pitch from Dellin Betances in the sixth.

In his final plate appearance in the ninth, Harper drew a walk from minor leaguer Anderson Severino on 99 mph fastball that was high and in.

“This is practice,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “These are reps, they’re work. He’s seeing pitches, working some deeper counts. We feel like he’s going to have his timing and his rhythm down for Opening Day and that’s most important.”

Harper sat out Saturday’s game against Houston but played catch and did agility work in the weight room.

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Dodgers promote ex-pitcher Gomes to asst. GM

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Los Angeles Dodgers have promoted Brandon Gomes to vice president and assistant general manager, continuing the former major leaguer’s climb up the front-office ranks.

The 34-year-old former pitcher had been serving as director of player development since 2016. He joined the Dodgers’ front office after a five-year career with Tampa Bay Rays.

Gomes began with the Dodgers as their minor league pitching coordinator under then-director of player development Gabe Kapler, who now manages the Philadelphia Phillies.

Gomes answers to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who like Gomes, is a Tulane University graduate. Friedman was general manager in Tampa Bay for much of Gomes’ pitching career there.

Farhan Zaidi, who had been the Dodgers’ GM, left in November to join the rival San Francisco Giants. Friedman had said the team wouldn’t necessarily be filling his position.

Also Sunday, the Dodgers announced that Will Rhymes will be director of player development, Alex Slater will be director of baseball operations and Duncan Webb will be director of baseball resources.

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