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Tigers give $8.4 million deal to No. 1 pick Spencer Torkelson, will add him to player pool

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DETROIT — No. 1 overall draft pick Spencer Torkelson and the Detroit Tigers agreed to a minor league contract on Tuesday, and the team said the infielder will join its player pool for this abbreviated season.

Torkelson’s deal includes $8,418,800, of which $8,416,300 is a signing bonus and $2,500 is a newly created contract execution bonus that is not in the usual structure of initial major league contracts. He is to receive $102,500 within 30 days of the deal’s approval by Major League Baseball. He will receive 50% of the rest on July 1, 2021, and the other 50% on July 1, 2022.

The slot value for the pick was $8,415,300.

Detroit had the top pick for the second time in three years. The Tigers drafted right-hander Casey Mize in 2018.

Undrafted out of high school, Torkelson hit 54 home runs at Arizona State. The Tigers took the slugging first baseman with the top pick, then said they intended to try him at third.

He’ll get a chance to show what he can do sooner rather than later. Detroit announced 58 selections for its player pool Sunday, leaving two spots open. On Tuesday, the Tigers said Torkelson will be added to that group.

The Tigers also included Mize and several other top pitching prospects in that player pool, meaning it’s possible that some of Detroit’s biggest young names could reach the majors at some point this season.

Torkelson hit .340 with six home runs and 11 RBIs in 17 games this year during a college season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.



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Travis Shaw apologizes for tweets critical of Blue Jays’ virus plan

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Toronto Blue Jays infielder Travis Shaw apologized for recent tweets that criticized his team’s plan to have players stick to the Rogers Centre and connecting hotel if games are played in Canada.

On Friday, he tweeted: “All summer isn’t gonna happen. Not an option.”

During a video conference call on Sunday, Shaw said he’d been “a little tone-deaf” and said his tweets were made out of “frustration.”

“I apologize for that, at no point was I saying I was going to break the rules or we’re going to break the rules,” Shaw said. “We know as a team that’s not an option and to get through this season, everybody is going to have to buy in and everybody is going to have to adhere to whatever protocols we’re set under.”

Shaw told reporters that Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins spoke to the team’s players on Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Yu Darvish swayed to play by teammates’ conviction

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While expressing some trepidation about playing during the coronavirus pandemic, Chicago Cubs starter Yu Darvish was swayed to report to camp — and stay — after seeing how seriously his teammates were taking matters.

“It was a tough decision but everyone is doing it [playing],” Darvish said through an interpreter while wearing a mask in a Sunday Zoom call. “Everyone has concerns but everyone decided to play so it makes it easier of me to make a decision to play.

“I still have concerns.”

Darvish, 33, had worries about the virus going back to spring training, in March. In fact, during a short illness, he made sure to stay away from teammates while getting himself checked out.

“I don’t want to be in the clubhouse, if I have the coronavirus or something like that, coming into the clubhouse and spread to everybody, that’s not good, right?” Darvish said back in early March.

His fears haven’t subsided.

“At some point I think everyone is going to get this [the virus],” he said on Sunday.

Darvish could always change his mind but said it’s doubtful he’d opt out now. The Cubs haven’t had a single player test positive for the coronavirus so far.

“I came here making sure everyone is doing the right thing, and then I had it in mind, if they’re not, I was ready to go home,” Darvish said.

Darvish could be the de facto ace of the Cubs heading into the shortened season. His second half of 2019 included a 2.76 ERA and .199 batting average against. Manager David Ross stopped short of naming him the Opening Day starter before the shutdown but that could still be in the offing.

“He’s extremely important,” Ross said. “The way he finished the season last year … that’s the guy we’re counting on.”

Darvish might have a leg up on most other players when it comes to one part of their new routine: wearing a mask.

“I used to wear this all the time in Japan so I’m very comfortable with this,” he said.

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Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen says he’s recovered after testing positive for COVID-19

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Kenley Jansen reported to camp with the rest of his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates on Sunday and revealed that he was delayed because he previously tested positive for COVID-19.

Jansen, the Dodgers’ All-Star closer, said he seemingly acquired the virus from his 4-year-old son, Kaden, who battled a fever one night and later tested positive. Jansen initially tested negative, then tested positive in a follow-up exam. He acquired the virus nearly three weeks ago but said he began to feel better by the fourth day.

“I tried to be careful, do everything we could do to try to avoid this virus,” Jansen said on a video call with reporters from Dodger Stadium. “It happened so fast.”

Jansen has previously dealt with atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes the heart to beat out of rhythm, and underwent his second ablation procedure in a span of six years in November of 2018.

After being diagnosed with coronavirus, Jansen put himself on a restrictive diet, limiting sodium, cutting out dairy, drinking plenty of electrolytes and walking around as often as possible. Two days after being symptom-free, he began to play catch again, then started utilizing the gym in his house and ultimately got off the mound again, his latest bullpen session coming on Friday. Jansen expects to be ready for the season opener in 11 days and didn’t give any consideration to the possibility of opting out.

“I always wanted to play,” Jansen said. “I love this game. I wanted to do it for the fans. We’re all going through a tough time right now in this world together. I think this is a good thing, not only for Dodger fans but all baseball fans around the world who have something to watch on TV.”

Jansen joins Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo, New York Yankees second baseman D.J. LeMahieu and closer Aroldis Chapman, Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Luis Urias and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Kole Calhoun among the more notable players to have publicly revealed they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Coronavirus cases continue to surge throughout the country with professional baseball, basketball and hockey on the verge of returning. The U.S. reported 66,627 new cases on Friday, a record for the second time this week. Florida alone had 15,300 on Saturday. In the midst of that, players such as San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, Washington Nationals corner infielder Ryan Zimmerman, Chicago White Sox starter Michael Kopech and Jansen’s teammate, David Price, have decided to opt out of the upcoming 60-game season.

“Take it serious, man,” Jansen said when asked if he had any advice for fans. “Wear your mask at all times.”

Jansen has been in L.A. ever since spring training was cancelled around the middle of March. He said everyone who lives in his house caught coronavirus after Kaden was diagnosed, which would also include his wife and two other children. They have all recovered, but Jansen said “we’re all still paranoid” over the fear of contracting the virus again.

“It’s definitely scary and definitely a disappointment,” Jansen said. “When my son had it, it was more the disappointment of, ‘Why does my son have it and why not me?’ You just don’t want that to happen to one of your kids. Next thing you know, we all got it. It is scary, man. But at the same time, you have to keep the faith and just fight it.”

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