A new leader in payroll among MLB teams?

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A new leader in payroll among MLB teams?

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are on track to become only the second major league team with a 200 million payroll and could end the New York Yankees' streak of 14 years as baseball's biggest spender.The Dodgers are at 214.8 million for 21 signed players next season, according to a study of their contracts by The Associated Press. That follows last weekend's additions of free agent pitcher Zack Greinke for a 147 million, six-year contract and South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin for a 36 million, six-year deal."Creating a lot of buzz, that's for sure," Greinke said. "And you do wonder when things are going to stop."Crediting the 3.9 million Boston is paying Los Angeles next year as part of last August's trade and not counting the portions of signing bonuses for players obtained from the Red Sox, the Dodgers' 2013 payroll currently is at 207.9 million.The Yankees have led each year since the Baltimore Orioles edged them by 200,000 in 1998, and New York has been at 200 million-plus every season since 2005. The record opening-day payroll of 209.1 million was set by the Yankees in 2008."I don't that there's anybody that can keep up with what the Dodgers are doing," Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said.Los Angeles, almost certain to pay the luxury tax next year, has joined the high rollers since the Dodgers were bought in May by Mark Walter's group, which also includes Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten."When we took over the team we said we were going to spend money and I guess you guys are seeing that we're trying to do that," Johnson said. "We're not messing around. We're not talking about it, we're doing it."Under outgoing owner Frank McCourt, they started the season with the 12th-highest payroll at 94.7 million. They boosted spending with the midseason acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Brandon League.The Dodgers finished 86-76 last season, eight games behind the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants in the NL West. The Dodgers haven't reached the World Series since winning the title in 1988.In addition to their players with agreements, the Dodgers have two players eligible for salary arbitration: catcher A.J. Ellis and right-hander Ronald Belisaro."We're here to win. I can't tell you if we're stopping or not," Johnson said.New York's 2013 payroll is at 176 million for 13 players, including a 12 million deal for third baseman Kevin Youkilis that hasn't been finalized. Four Yankees are eligible for arbitration: pitchers Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan.The deals for Greinke and Ryu contain numerous complicated provisions and perks.Greinke gets a 12 million signing bonus, of which 7 million is payable by Dec. 31 and 5 million on Feb. 1, 2014. He gets a 17 million salary next year, 24 million in 2014, 23 million in 2015, 24 million in 2016, 23 million in 2017 and 24 million in 2018.He can opt out of the final three years of the contract within three days of the final game of the 2015 World Series.While Greinke doesn't have a no-trade provision, if he's dealt during the season he can decide within three days of the end of the World Series whether to terminate the contract. And if he's traded during the offseason, he gets an extra 3 million and has the right to end the deal immediately.In addition, for the 2018 season only, he gets 1 million for winning the Cy Young Award and 500,000 for finishing second through fifth. Greinke also has the right to purchase four premium tickets for all home games.Ryu gets a 5 million signing bonus, half due on April 1 and the rest on April 1, 2014. His salaries are 2.5 million next year, 3.5 million in 2014, 4 million in 2015 and 7 million in each of the following three seasons. He can earn an additional 1 million annually in performance bonuses, 250,000 each for 170, 180, 190 and 200 innings.If he has 750 innings pitched from 2013-17, he can opt out of the final season. If he wins the Cy Young Award, his salaries for remaining seasons would increase by 1 million. They would go up by 750,000 if he finishes second, 500,000 if he finishes third and 250,000 if he finishes fourth or fifth.He has the same opt-out rights as Greinke, but without the 3 million payment, and he can't be sent to the minor leagues without his consent.Ryu gets a 30,000 moving allowance, eight annual first-class round-trip tickets from Los Angeles to South Korea, an employee assigned to Korean media needs, and interpreter, a personal trainermassage therapist, English lessons and payment for immigration fees.The contract gives him the right to wear No. 99 and allows him access to purchase premium tickets. He gets a suite on the road but pays the difference between the cost of a suite and a regular room.

Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

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Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

The White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale vs. Edison Volquez

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

Why Cubs believe in Kyle Hendricks and his sneaky-good potential

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Why Cubs believe in Kyle Hendricks and his sneaky-good potential

Maybe Kyle Hendricks would inevitably be overshadowed in a rotation featuring the National League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta), a $155 million All-Star lefty (Jon Lester) and a Texas cowboy who also has two World Series rings (John Lackey). Not to mention a Cubs team identified with zoo animals, dance parties and an explosive offense.

The low-key personality, sense of calm and sharp focus that’s allowed Hendricks to survive in The Show – and also earn an economics degree from Dartmouth College – certainly plays into that perception as well. 

But there’s no denying what Hendricks means to the Cubs as an extremely reliable fifth starter for the team with the best record in baseball – in what’s shaping up to be a very shallow market for pitching at this summer’s trade deadline and this winter’s upcoming class of free agents.  

Hendricks had to become a huge part of the story after almost throwing a complete-game shutout during Saturday afternoon’s 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in front of 41,555 at Wrigley Field. 

“What you saw today – that’s what you could get out of him,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s 88-89 (mph) with the really good changeup and he broke out the hooks a couple times. But he’s good against lefties and righties when everything’s working. And he can keep the ball on the ground, which is really important in this ballpark. 

“Right now, what you’re seeing, to me, is not a reach by any means. This is what he can look like very, very consistently.”

Hendricks needed only 104 pitches to throw his complete game, allowing five hits and finishing with seven strikeouts against zero walks. The Phillies (26-23) scored their only run in the ninth inning, after second baseman Ben Zobrist and right fielder Jason Heyward lost a flyball in the sun. Freddy Galvis got credited with a double and later scored on the throw to first base to complete a Ryan Howard strikeout, taking advantage of the extreme defensive shift against Philadelphia’s fading slugger.   

Hendricks (3-4, 2.93 ERA) has thrown at least five innings in each of his nine starts so far this season. He made 32 starts last year and finished with a sub-4.00 ERA and a very good strikeout-to-walk ratio (167:43). He’s 26 years old and can’t become a free agent until after the 2020 season.

“Now his confidence is back on, because he knows he can use the curveball as well,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “There were so many ways to go, because everything was working.

“It’s huge (when) it’s not just fastball-changeup. He’s got another weapon to go to sometimes. And, obviously, as a hitter, you know it’s three pitches (now in play). It’s a little bit more uncomfortable for a hitter. You don’t know what you’re going to look for.”  

Hendricks beat Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks in his first start this season – and lost a 1-0 decision to Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants in his previous start. Not that Hendricks is about to start pounding his chest on the mound or running his mouth in the interview room. 

“I’m pretty confident, but it doesn’t really matter much,” Hendricks said. “All that matters is going out there and making pitches. It’s back to work this week, (throw) my bullpen, stay where I’m at in my lane and keep the ball down with some angle.” 

Seven-run ninth inning dooms White Sox in loss to Royals

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Seven-run ninth inning dooms White Sox in loss to Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What an implosion.

A day after they inexplicably gave away one contest, the White Sox outdid themselves on Saturday afternoon.

Instead of evening the series with a decisive victory, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle allowed the Kansas City Royals to rally for seven ninth-inning runs to send the White Sox to a stunning 8-7 loss in front of 31,598 at Kauffman Stadium. Brett Eibner’s bases-loaded RBI single off Kahnle capped an improbable comeback and delivered another crushing blow to the White Sox, who have lost five straight and 13 of their last 17 contests.

“This is a tough one, no matter how you look at it,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “You saw what happened. You can go back and think about it, game we should have won and didn’t win.”

“We’re all professionals and we’ve seen crazy things in baseball. This is one of them.”

Saturday’s loss ranks as one of the craziest in club history. The White Sox went from a state of joy, cruising toward a pivotal victory, to disarray in a span of 51 pitches.

Leading 7-1, Robertson took over and struck out Paulo Orlando.

Cheslor Cuthbert then singled and Eibner doubled to deep right when Adam Eaton lost the ball in the sun. Robertson walked Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar consecutively to force in a run, which prompted a visit from White Sox manager Robin Ventura.

Whit Merrifield’s grounder then deflected off the glove of Robertson and a potential double play turned into a two-run single and made it a 7-4 contest.

“The worst part about it was looking back and seeing Brett (Lawrie) was right there,” Robertson said. “If I had let it go, I would have got us out of the inning. It’s frustrating when you make a mistake like that.”

Lorenzo Cain’s hustle kept the inning alive as he narrowly beat out a game-ending double play to drive in another run. Eric Hosmer followed with an RBI double to right-center field to make it a 7-6 game and end Robertson’s day.

“It’s a terrible performance on my part,” Robertson said. “Can’t say much else about it.

“It doesn’t matter what the score is, I still have to get three outs. I let the whole team down.”

Drew Butera lifted his team’s spirits. The backup catcher entered in the ninth inning after an apparent knee injury knocked Salvador Perez out of the game. Already on tilt, the Kauffman crowd erupted when Butera ripped a 99-mph fastball from Kahnle for a game-tying double.

The White Sox opted to intentionally walk Orlando. But it didn’t prevent Kahnle from allowing Butera to advance to third as he uncorked a wild pitch. Kahnle also intentionally walked Jarrod Dyson to load the bases for Eibner, who ended a 10-pitch at-bat with the game-winning single under the glove of Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

“The way games have been going, you go to the guy to close it out, because we haven’t been able to get to him,” Ventura said. “There’s no shot clock. There’s no time clock. If you can’t close it out, that’s what happens. And today we couldn’t close it out.”

The White Sox entered the ninth inning without a care in the world. They had bounced back definitively from Friday’s stunner, when the bullpen surrendered a four-run lead over the final three innings.

An opposite-field approach against Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura took hold with two outs in the fourth inning. Brett Lawrie, Alex Avila and Avisail Garcia all had opposite-field singles, Garcia’s providing the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Tyler Saladino then crushed a hanging 0-2 slider from Ventura for a three-run homer to left field and a four-run lead.

The White Sox offense continued to add on against Ventura. Avila doubled with one out in the fourth inning and Garcia hammered a 2-1 changeup for a two-run shot. Garcia’s homer, his fifth, traveled 428 feet at an exit velocity of 113 mph and gave the White Sox a 6-1 advantage.

They added another run in the fifth as Austin Jackson singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error by Omar Infante.

And then the Royals happened again.

“They have mojo over there right now,” Avila said. “They just keep coming at you and taking advantage of the fact that we’re scuffling a little bit right now.”

The devastating loss was the third in 18 days in which the White Sox bullpen surrendered a significant lead. The unit, which has a 4.73 ERA this month, also blew a five-run lead in a 13-11 loss at the Texas Rangers on May 10. Along with a blown four-run lead on Friday, the White Sox nearly surrendered a four-run advantage in the opening game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians on Monday.

“It might have a lasting effect,” Frazier said. “There are going to be some guys who are in here who tonight aren’t going to be real happy. Once you get in here and know we start over again, I’ve learned from the best that you start all over like nothing happened and go about your business.”