MLB sets up local media group
Major League Baseball added three executives to its new local media department as it prepares for a possible takeover of broadcasts for 17 teams amid the financial deterioration of the Bally and AT&T SportsNet regional sports networks. Doug Johnson was hired as senior vice president and executive producer of local media, Greg Pennell as senior vice president of local media and Kendall Burgess as vice president of local media technical operations, the commissioner's office said Wednesday.
"These new hires are an important step in our preparation to address the changing landscape of MLB game distribution in light of the increasing challenges and pressure facing regional sports networks," MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden said in a statement.
Diamond Sports Group, the subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group that operates networks under the name Bally Sports, has the rights to 14 major league teams and skipped about $140 million in interest payments due Feb. 15. Diamond said as of Sept. 30 it had debt of $8.674 billion. The company has nearly $1 billion in rights payments, mostly to baseball teams, due in the first quarter this year, and a bankruptcy filing is possible.
Diamond owns rights to the broadcasts for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.
Warner Bros. Discovery's AT&T SportsNet networks told the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates last week that the companies do not have the money to make scheduled rights fee payments. The networks told the teams they have until March 31 to reclaim their broadcast rights and if there are not deals, the networks would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Sale on track
Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale will likely make his Grapefruit League debut next week.
The seven-time All-Star threw 43 pitches over two innings of batting practice on Wednesday. Boston manager Alex Cora
told reporters that Sale should be cleared to work two-tothree innings in a game sometime next week.
The 33-year-old Sale was limited to just two starts last year and 11 starts in all since 2020 due to a variety of health issues. Sale arrived at spring training with no limitations, though Boston is taking the left-hander's ramp-up slowly in hopes of avoiding any setbacks.
New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu went 1 for 2 against Washington in his first game since being sidelined last September by a right toe injury.
He singled off the left-field wall in the third, and played four innings at second base. More importantly, LeMahieu enjoyed his pain-free at-bats since the middle of last season.
"I'm excited about that," LeMahieu said. "Excited to keep it going. I've been feeling good, and I expected it to stay that way."
LeMahieu was limited to 125 regular-season games and missed the playoffs. He finished the season with a .261 batting average, his lowest since 2011.
"It's awesome to see him up," Yankees leftfielder Giancarlo Stanton said. "He's a force for us, and he's a menace for pitchers."
Rortvedt sidelined again
Yankees catcher Ben Rortvedt is out indefinitely after a procedure to deal with what manager Aaron Boone called "an aneurysm of his posterior artery" near his left shoulder. The injury is the latest in a series of setbacks for Rortvedt, who came to the Yankees as part of the trade that sent catcher Gary Sánchez to Minnesota. He was expected to compete for a roster spot but instead never appeared in a major-league game due to oblique and knee injuries.
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter was so impressed with the support given by a particular fan during an 8-4 victory over Miami that a simple tip of the cap wasn't enough. Showalter presented the fan with the lineup card afterward as a token of appreciation.
"He deserved it," Showalter said.