Jim Fanning, the first general manager of the Montreal Expos, has passed away at age 87, as Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun notes (on Twitter). Fanning played briefly for the Cubs as a catcher in parts of the 1954 through 1957 seasons, but he was better known for the career he built after he was through as a player. He assembled the original 1969 Expos team, beginning with the 1968 Expansion Lottery, and, during his tenure, acquired Expos greats like Rusty Staub, Ellis Valentine, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson. After Charlie Fox replaced Fanning in 1976, he continued to work for the Expos, eventually taking over as manager in 1981 in time for their first and only playoff appearance. Later in his career, he worked in the Rockies and Blue Jays organizations. In 2000, he was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Here are more notes on baseball throughout the world.

  • The Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League have announced (link in French) that they will have from Cuban this season, via an agreement with the Cuban government. Those include outfielder Yuniesky Gourriel, the son of the legendary Lourdes Gourriel and the the brother of star Yulieski Gourriel and the promising Lourdes Gourriel Jr. (both of whom are currently playing in Japan). Outfielder Alexei Bell, shortstop Yordan Manduley, and pitcher Ismel Jimenez will also join the Capitales. it’s unclear whether any of them are big-league-talents talents, although it’s worth noting that the Can-Am League (from which, for example, the Twins signed Chris Colabello) will make it easier for scouts for affiliated teams to see them.
  • Former Cubs and Astros pitcher Mitch Atkins has signed with the Lamigo Monkeys in Taiwan, J.M.G. Baseball announces (via Twitter). The 29-year-old Atkins last appeared in the big leagues in 2011. He pitched much of the last two seasons in the Braves organization, also pitching in independent ball and in winter ball in the Dominican.

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The Blue Jays have released pitcher Ricky Romero, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets.

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The Rays have designated Allan Dykstra for assignment, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

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Athletics utilityman Ben Zobrist confirms that he will have arthroscopic knee surgery, which likely means he will be out four to six weeks, Joe Stiglich of Comcast SportsNet California writes (via Twitter). That Zobrist would have surgery seemed increasingly likely earlier today, when the A’s placed him on the disabled list and promoted infielder Max Muncy to take his place on the active roster.

Via the Bay Area News Group’s John Hickey (on Twitter), Zobrist says he’s hopeful he can return by the start of June, giving the A’s four more months of regular-season baseball with him before he becomes a free agent. But the injury limits the amount of time the Athletics have to recoup the investment they made this offseason when they sent top prospect Daniel Robertson (along with big-leaguer John Jaso and another prospect, Boog Powell) to Tampa Bay for Zobrist and Yunel Escobar. Zobrist had been very durable before this season, having played 146 or more games in every year since 2009.

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The Mets are one of several teams helping Major League Baseball understand more about pitchers’ epidemic of elbow injuries, Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com writes. The Mets, along with four other teams, are having the pitchers in their 2014 draft class participate in a study by agreement with MLB and the MLBPA, along with the American Sports Medicine Institute. Vorkunov reports that the study will examine pitchers’ biomechanics, anatomy and flexibility to try to identify players who might be at risk. All 30 teams will have access to the results. “We as an industry probably should have taken the initiative long ago before this became such an epidemic,” says Mets GM Sandy Alderson. “But I’m happy we’re pursuing it now. That, I think, will help us with the next generation of baseball pitchers.” The problem is surely one that all clubs are curious about, although the Mets, who have lost Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to Tommy John surgery in recent years, likely are especially interested. Here’s more from around the Majors.

  • Carlos Beltran is becoming disliked by fans of both the Mets and the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s questionable whether Mets fans have reasonable grounds to dislike Beltran — as Sherman notes, Beltran played well with the Mets and landed them Wheeler. But many do. And the first year-plus of Beltran’s three-year, $45MM contract with the Yankees has been awful so far, particularly given his defensive limitations. Beltran, who turned 38 yesterday, is hitting .173/.241/.288 so far this season.
  • 30-year-old 1B/OF Danny Dorn finally made it to the big leagues after 939 minor-league games after the Diamondbacks promoted him Tuesday, and he’s thrilled to be there, writes MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom. “I can call myself a Major Leaguer,” says Dorn. “It’s been great. I just feel blessed and thankful for the opportunity.” Dorn has been climbing uphill his entire career — he was a 32nd-round draft pick all the way back in 2006, and although he hit well throughout the minors, he spent parts of seven seasons at Triple-A.

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The Athletics have designated lefty Eury De La Rosa for assignment, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.

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As we noted yesterday, the Angels and Rangers are close to a deal that would send troubled outfielder Josh Hamilton back to Texas, with the Angels receiving $15MM or less in salary relief in return. The deal isn’t yet complete (and it’s easy to see why, given the complexity of dealing with the approximately $80MM on Hamilton’s contract), but here are a few early reactions.

  • Given the reported terms of the deal, the Hamilton trade is a low-risk gambit by the Rangers, Dayn Perry of CBS Sports writes. Hamilton’s left-handed power should play better in the Rangers’ ballpark than it did in the Angels’, and also, Hamilton could prove to be more comfortable in Texas, where he produced many of his best seasons. Meanwhile, the $15MM or less the Rangers are reportedly taking on isn’t an exorbitant commitment.
  • Arguing in a somewhat similar vein, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News argues that the Rangers have little to lose from the trade.  Hamilton won’t block any outfielders who are performing well, and the Rangers can provide a supportive environment that can help Hamilton as he battles his addiction issues.
  • Hamilton’s Angels teammates hope he has good luck in Texas, Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reports. “No matter what the situation is, Josh is going to pick up a 35-inch bat and go swing,” says C.J. Wilson. “That’s what he’s good at, and I think that’s what he needs to be doing right now.”

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