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MLB Notes: Longtime utility player Tony Phillips dies

Tony Phillips played for six teams during 18 years in the majors. (ERIC GAY / Associated Press)
Tony Phillips played for six teams during 18 years in the majors. (ERIC GAY / Associated Press)

Tony Phillips, an infielder and outfielder who made the final defensive play in the Oakland Athletics’ sweep of the Giants during the earthquake-interrupted 1989 World Series, has died. He was 56.

The A’s didn’t provide a cause of death Friday in announcing Phillips’ passing, which the club said occurred Wednesday in Arizona and was unexpected.

“I am in total shock. Played golf with Tony Phillips last week he was driving the ball over 300 yards seemed so healthy and full of life,” former A’s slugger Jose Canseco posted on Twitter. “RIP Tony Phillips. My thoughts and prayers with your family at this tough time. Going to miss you.”

Phillips played nine of his 18 major league seasons with the A’s, and he also spent five years with Detroit, two each with the Angels and White Sox and one year for both the Mets and Toronto. He returned to Oakland for his final season in 1999 and was a career .266 hitter with 160 home runs and 819 RBIs in 2,161 games.

“The Oakland A’s lost another member of our family this week with the unexpected passing of Tony Phillips,” team President Michael Crowley said. “We all have fond memories of Tony making the final play in the A’s 1989 World Series. He was a remarkable player. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Original San Francisco Giant Jim Davenport dies

Jim Davenport, a longtime third baseman for the San Francisco Giants who later managed the team and worked in the front office, has died. He was 82.

The Giants announced his death Friday, saying he died Thursday night in Redwood City, California, because of heart failure.

Davenport was among the original San Francisco Giants after the franchise moved west from New York after the 1957 season. He played in the 1962 World Series and won a National League Gold Glove that same season.

Davenport was with the Giants organization for 51 years as a player, manager and coach in the majors and minors. He managed the Giants for part of the 1985 season before being replaced by Roger Craig.

He batted .258 with 77 home runs and 456 RBIs in 1,501 career games over 13 major league seasons all with San Francisco, from 1958-’70.

Agent charged with smuggling Cuban players

A Florida-based sports agent who has worked for a company in a joint venture with entertainer Marc Antony’s firm, has been indicted in Miami on charges involving illegal smuggling of Cuban baseball players from the communist island to the U.S.

Homeland Security Investigations spokesman Nestor Iglesias in Miami confirmed Bart Hernandez was arrested in a joint operation with the FBI. Hernandez was scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Friday.

His attorney, Daniel Rashbaum, had no immediate comment on the charges. An indictment providing additional details was expected to be unsealed.

One of Hernandez’s clients was Leonys Martin, a Seattle Mariners outfielder formerly with the Texas Rangers. Martin was referenced in an earlier indictment charging four people with conspiring to illegally smuggle ballplayers and other people from Cuba. Three of those people have pleaded guilty.

Rangers guarantee Bannister contract through ‘18

Jeff Banister’s contract to manage the Texas Rangers has been guaranteed through 2018.

Hired in October 2014, Banister was voted A.L. Manager of the Year after leading the Rangers to an 88-74 record and the A.L. West title. They lost to Toronto in the Division Series.

His previous deal was guaranteed through 2017 and included a team option for 2018. The Rangers said they guaranteed 2018 and added a team option for 2019. He also gets a raise.

“We reworked Jeff’s contract,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Through the team’s early season struggles, he was able to keep everyone focused, and that led to a memorable finish. We are proud to have him managing the Texas Rangers.

Texas improved its wins total by 21 over 2014 despite injuries to Yu Darvish, who missed the season due to reconstructive elbow surgery, and Derek Holland, who was limited to 10 starts.

Indians agree to one-year deal with 3B Uribe

The Cleveland Indians agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with veteran infielder Juan Uribe, who will likely be their starting third baseman this season.

The team confirmed that the 36-year-old will sign once some issues are resolved with his visa and he’s able to return to the United States. He still has to pass a physical for the deal to be finalized.

Uribe played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets last season, batting .253 with 14 home runs in 119 games. During his 15-year career, Uribe has also played for Colorado, the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco. He has a career .256 average with 192 home runs and 791 RBIs.

Phillies’ pitcher Eickhoff out with broken thumb

Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff broke his right thumb before camp opened and is behind as pitchers and catchers begin official workouts this week.

The team expects he will be ready by Opening Day.

“He shouldn’t be far behind, it’s going to set him back a little, but not much,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “We expect him to be fine.”

Eickhoff, 25, injured the thumb last week while taking bunting practice in the indoor cages of the Carpenter Complex.

“It was off the machine, up and in,” Eickhoff said. “I tried to kind of get out of the way of it, but at the same time my thumb came off the bat and it grazed my thumb. It kind bruised it pretty good.”

Eickhoff went 3-3 with a 2.65 ERA in eight starts with the Phillies in 2015.

Royals sign veteran free agent lefty Minor

Pitcher Mike Minor agreed to a $7.25 million, one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals, a deal that could be worth $24.5 million over three seasons if he is a regular member of the rotation.

A 28-year-old left-hander who was sidelined for all of last season because of shoulder injury, Minor joins what is becoming a crowded competition for two spots in the Royals’ starting rotation.

A former first-round pick of the Atlanta Braves, Minor will earn $2 million this year and $4 million in 2017. The deal includes a $10 million mutual option for 2018 with a $1.25 million buyout.

Minor became a free agent in December when the Braves failed to offer a 2016 contract. He spent the first five seasons of his career with Atlanta, going 38-36 with a 4.10 ERA while averaging 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

After experiencing soreness during spring training last season, Minor went on the disabled list and had surgery May 13 to repair the labrum in his pitching shoulder.

He is competing with Chris Young, Kris Medlen, Danny Duffy and Dillon Gee for starting spots behind Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura and Ian Kennedy.

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