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, Fla. (AP) — “Trader Jack” is back at spring training and couldn’t be happier. Back in baseball, where he belongs, after a season away.Now a special adviser to the Washington Nationals‘ general manager, Jack McKeon feels refreshed after a bit of a break from the place that’s been his world for most of his 88 years. He managed more than 1,000 wins in the majors, another 1,000-plus in the minors and was a GM, too.“This is in your blood. It’s your love. When I used to manage the Marlins, I’d get up at 7, go to church at 8:30, then turn around and go right to the ballpark. People said: How come you went to the ballpark alone at 9 o’clock, 9:30? I’d say that it was like my living room. My home,” McKeon said during an interview at the Nationals’ spring training facility. “I’d go out and jog. Read the papers. Smoke a few cigars and wait ’til the game started.”Those Padron cigars are still around, but only to gnaw on; he stopped lighting them up more than a half-dozen years ago after double-bypass heart surgery.“When I see people, first thing they ask is, ‘Can I get a picture? Where’s your cigar?’ So I always keep one on hand,” said McKeon, whose son, Kasey, is Washington’s director of player procurement. “I cut ’em in half, chew ’em. Just stick ’em in, like a prop.”So much else is the same as it ever was when it comes to the manager of the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins — today, they’re the Miami Marlins — along with the Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds.His nickname — earned because, as he says, “I kept wheelin’ and dealin’ Evan Longoria Jersey
, and so it stuck” while running the Padres in the 1980s — is so ingrained that the license plate on one of his cars reads “Trader J.” Friends call him “Trader Jack,” and he signs text messages simply with “Trader.”Also unchanged: His knowledge of the game. His sense of humor. And, of course, his penchant for telling stories.Oh, those stories.Get McKeon started, and he’ll regale you for 10, 20, 30 minutes, each tale leading to another, a wink and a smile punctuating his promise of, “I’ll tell ya one more.”There are common threads. Every character is truly a character, depicted in detail — how tall or slender, how voices sounded, how smart (or not). There’s usually an element of self-deprecation. There’s always a punchline.On this particular morning, as birds chirped around in the breeze, McKeon got on a roll. He recalled setting up an electronic “wire” that allowed for direct communication with his pitcher in the early 1960s at Triple-A Vancouver, predating by a half-century the watches Major League Baseball tested this spring to evade sign-stealing. Or the time he wanted rope tied around a player’s feet when he reached first base so the guy wouldn’t take off when he shouldn’t. Or when he went to a pawn shop and bought a $3.95 gun that shot blanks to scare a runner ignoring “Stop!” signs at third base.“You try to absorb as much as you can,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s definitely a teacher. And I try to be a student.”Washington GM Mike Rizzo wanted McKeon for precisely that purpose: passing along what he knows.“He’s a mentor to me. He’s a person that you can bounce things off of. I can. Davey can,” Rizzo said. “He checks just about every box that you need as an experienced baseball person.”McKeon was available because he was among four Marlins executives — along with Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jeff Conine — let go after a group led by Derek Jeter bought that team in 2017.That scuttled a plan to let McKeon run Miami for one game in September 2018 so he could break Connie Mack’s record for oldest manager in the majors.“I’m not worried about it. I’m not politicking. It would have been nice. I just didn’t want it to seem like a PR thing,” McKeon said. “If it ever happens, fine. If it doesn’t, so be it.”McKeon will be based in Washington during the season, which begins Thursday, and will travel to help minor league managers and coaches and evaluate prospects.In sum, Rizzo vowed to keep McKeon busy.Trader Jack is just fine with that after his brief respite, even if it afforded him time to go to the beach or Las Vegas or spend time with a family that includes 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.“I got a chance to see what the other side lives like. As the season wore on Dustin McGowan Jersey
, especially near the end, it got boring hanging around. I needed to go back to work,” McKeon said, then added with a chuckle: “Plus, my wife kept saying, ‘Why don’t you go? Go. Go. Go.'” ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole and Alex Wood won their salary arbitration cases Wednesday, giving players a 6-3 advantage over teams to ensure a winning record in consecutive years for the first time since 1989-90.Bauer won his hearing for the second straight year and was awarded $13 million by James Darby, James Oldham and Sylvia Skratek instead of the Cleveland Indians‘ $11 million offer.Cole was given a $13.5 million salary by Gil Vernon, Steven Wolf and Walt De Treux rather than the Houston Astros‘ offer of $11,425,000.Wood will get $9.65 million instead of the Cincinnati Reds‘ $8.7 million offer, Dan Brent, Andrew Strongin and Phillip LaPorte decided.Bauer and Cole topped the previous high for a salary awarded in an arbitration hearing, $10.5 million won last year by Boston outfielder Mookie Betts.Bauer, a 28-year-old right-hander, was a first-time All-Star last year and finished sixth in AL Cy Young Award voting after going 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA, second behind Tampa Bay’s Nate Snell. Bauer’s right leg was broken Aug. 11 when hit by a line drive, and he did not return to the mound for the Indians until Sept. 21.Bauer won a $6,525,000 salary last year in a case decided by Strongin, Wolf and Robert Herzog, who ruled against Cleveland’s $5.3 million offer.Minnesota’s Kyle Lohse (2005, ’06), Houston’s Collin McHugh (2017, ’18) and Tampa Bay’s Jake Odorizzi (2017 http://www.raysfanproshop.com/authentic-evan-longoria-jersey
, ’18) also won in consecutive years.Cole, also a 28-year-right-hander, received his second All-Star selection last year and went 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA. He made $6.75 million. Houston has lost five straight cases since beating catcher Jason Castro in 2016, falling to McHugh twice, reliever Ken Giles last year and shortstop Carlos Correa this year.Wood, a 28-year-old left-hander, was 9-7 with a 3.68 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 27 starts and six relief appearances last year, when he made $6 million. He was acquired by the Reds on Dec. 21 along with outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.Cole and Wood are eligible for free agency after this season, and Bauer is eligible after the 2020 season.Players will finish with a winning record for the third time in four years but just the fifth time since 1996 and 11th time since arbitration started in 1974.Oakland closer Blake Treinen and Tampa Bay outfielder Tommy Pham also won their cases this year, while Washington outfielder Michael A. Taylor, Nationals reliever Kyle Barraclough and Toronto reliever Ryan Tepera lost.Detroit pitcher Michael Fulmer asked for a raise from $575,200 to $3.4 million on Wednesday, and the Tigers argued for $2.8 million. A decision by Matt Goldberg, Robert Herzog and Elizabeth Neumeier is expected Saturday.Fulmer was the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in 2017. A right-hander who turns 26 on March 15, Fulmer was 3-12 with a 4.69 ERA in 132 1/3 innings last year. He didn’t pitch for the Tigers between July 14 and Aug. 24 because of a left oblique strain, then didn’t pitch after Sept. 15 because of a torn right lateral meniscus.New York Yankees right-hander Luis Severino is the only player still scheduled for a hearing.Pitcher Aaron Nola avoided a hearing by agreeing to a $45 million, four-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.The 25-year-old right-hander set career bests last year when he was a first-time All-Star, going 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA. He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2021 season.Nola gets a $2 million signing bonus, $4 million this year, $8 million in 2020, $11.75 million in 2021 and $15 million in 2022. Philadelphia has a $16 million team option for 2023 with a $4.25 million buyout.Eligible for arbitration for the first time, he had asked for a raise from $573,000 to $6.75 million. The Phillies had offered $4.5 million.Among the more than 175 players who were eligible for arbitration this year, Nola is the first to get a deal of more than one guaranteed season. Arizona left-hander T.J. MacFarland and Milwaukee catcher Manny Pina agreed to contracts that included 2020 club options.