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Blue Jays ink Grichuk to five-year extension

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The Toronto Blue Jays are banking on Randal Grichuk’s potential.

The team announced prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles that they have signed the 27-year old outfielder to a five-year, $52 million contract extension with no team options or opt-outs for the player.

The deal will increase his salary from $5 million to $7 million plus a $5 million signing bonus in 2019. He will then make $12 million next season, and $9.33 million in each of the next three years in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Although he hasn’t quite figured it out offensively, the team believes in his talent and potential to become a quality MLB player heading into his prime years.

“The offence has always stood out, he’s always performed, he’s always hit the ball hard and he’s always hit it far and it usually goes over the fence at a pretty good rate. In our view he’s been an above-average defender and those are hard things to piece together,” said Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins about the reasoning behind extending Grichuk.

“It really is much easier … to recommend it to our ownership when you know the commitment from a teammate and a professionalism standpoint and you’re not worried about off the field distractions, you’re not worried about his commitment or desire to be great. That makes it a lot easier to push things forward.”

Grichuk, who was acquired in an offseason deal with the St.Louis Cardinals in January 2018, posted a .245 batting average, .801 OPS, a career-high 25 homers, and 61 RBI over a span of 124 games in his first season with the club last year.

So far in 2019, he has hit .118 with a homer and two RBI in 20 plate appearances.

Hockey

Oilers interested in signing German forward Frederik Tiffels

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The Edmonton Oilers are looking overseas in their pursuit to add some much-needed forward depth.

According to reports, New GM Ken Holland and the Oilers’ brass are interested in the services of German forward Frederik Tiffels after his impressive performance at the 2019 world hockey championship in Slovakia this month.

The 24-year old, who was initially selected 167th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2015 NHL Draft, posted two goals and two assists in eight games at this year’s Worlds. It also marks the third straight year he participated in the tournament.

He played for Kölner Haie of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in 2018/19, posting six goals and 16 assists in 27 games, and nine points in 11 postseason games.

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Hockey

Senators hire Leafs assistant D.J. Smith as their new head coach

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Welcome to the nation’s capital, D.J. Smith!

The Ottawa Senators officially announced the hiring of Smith as their new head coach on Thursday.

“D.J. Smith is a winner. We believe he is the best person to drive the development and success of the Ottawa Senators,” said general manager Pierre Dorion.

“D.J. is a great communicator and an exceptional strategist. His passionate approach, coupled with his ability to teach the game, is exactly what we were looking for throughout the process. We’re thrilled to welcome D.J. and his family to Ottawa.”

Smith had spent the past four seasons as Mike Babcock’s assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs. With him on the bench, the team has qualified for the playoffs the past three seasons, and have had their most success as a franchise since the early 2000′s.

Prior to his stint with the Leafs, he was a head coach with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. During that span, he led them to a combined 135-53-3-13 record, and a Memorial Cup title in 2015. He also earned OHL’s Coach of the Year award after an incredible season with the franchise in 2013/14.

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Pujols passes Ichiro on MLB all-time hits list

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After singling to right field in the third inning of the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday, Albert Pujols passed legendary Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to move into 22nd all-time on the MLB hits list.

“That’s impressive,” said teammate Mike Trout about Pujols’ latest accomplishment.

“Obviously, Ichiro had an unbelievable amount of hits. It seems like every day Albert is passing somebody. I was joking with Noé [Ramirez after he caught Pujols’ homer in his hat Saturday]: ‘Why did you give that ball to a fan? He just passed Babe Ruth or something.’ It seems like every day he passes a Hall of Famer.”

The 39-year old Pujols, who is currently playing in his nineteenth MLB season, has accumulated 3090 hits, 634 homers, and 1984 RBI in 2702 combined games with the St. Louis Cardinals and Angels.

He is also a two-time World Series champion, three-time NL MVP, two-time NL home run champion and has been selected to ten MLB All-Star games throughout his career.

He needs 272 hits to surpass the great Dave Winfield for 21st overall.

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