Westmoreland back to being one of the guys

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Westmoreland back to being one of the guys

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. A little over a year ago, Ryan Westmoreland was getting ready to begin his second season of professional baseball. A 2009 New York-Penn League All-Star for the Lowell Spinners, named by Baseball America as the Red Sox No. 1 prospect and the NYPLs top prospect, Westmoreland had every reason to be excited for the start of a new season.

But in early March 2010, he was diagnosed with a cavernous malformation in his brain. He required surgery, which was performed in Arizona and initially took his sight, his hearing in one ear, and his motor functions. His future was uncertain. His baseball future was barely a consideration then.

I tried to not let that cross my mind, but it was kind of inevitable, he said. I had the days where I was really down on myself, and I said, You know, am I going to play again? I was really unsure about the future . . . I just really tried to limit the days that I got down on myself.

But he is back playing baseball now. Hes not ready for games yet. But, at the minor-league camp at the player development complex, Westmoreland works out, just as all the minor-leaguers do.

I feel great, he said. Just to be on the field again and be doing baseball activities is one thing. But to be doing it at a level that I'm doing it now, at a really advanced level. I feel like I'm performing pretty well in the cages and on the field there. So, overall, I feel great about not only being on the field but about performing as well.

Hes doing just about everything, he said taking batting practice, throwing, running required of a baseball player. Just as important, hes doing it with the other players and not by himself.

I'm not to the caliber I was last year, he said. I'm doing sprints, doing some long-distance stuff as far as condition. I'm doing most of the things that every other player is doing. And hitting, I go about it in a way that every player does their own hitting. Everybody does batting practice. It's just good to just be able to fit into the mold of all the professional baseball players and not kind of seeing the one odd guy out taking batting practice by himself now. I'm taking it with the team and everybody. It's a good feeling.

His short-term goals are simple.

Immediate goal is just all these little things, he said. Just trying to smooth them out, the running, the hitting, the eyesight, everything. I'm just trying to smooth them out and get them to where I know was last year prior to all the symptoms. So really no long-term goals, just short day-to-day goals that if I keep succeeding, the day ahead is going to lead what I want.

He still gets fatigued. He still has occasional problems with his balance.

But, I started out with basically nothing and now I'm at a very advanced level, he said. And the Red Sox staff and the doctors were all impressed.

He doesnt know when hell be ready to play in games again. He has no timetable for that, but he knows it will take care of itself.

I just feel like when I'm ready to play, when I feel like I'm going to be able to perform well, I'm going to go out there and play, he said. The goal at the end of the day is always get to Fenway. If it happens, it happens. If not, it doesn't. But, of course, the sooner the better. I'm just hoping for the best every day and if I play, it's going to be meant to be. If not, it's also meant to be. So, we'll see what happens.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Report: Chapman, Yanks reach agreement on five-year, $86 million deal

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Report: Chapman, Yanks reach agreement on five-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. - Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen - a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever - that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu are back together.

The two Cuban natives were teammates in 2012 when they played for Cienfuegos in Cuba, and now they'll be in the same dugout once again — this time in Chicago.

"To get the opportunity to play with him right now in the United States, it's an honor for me," Moncada said through a translator on a conference call Wednesday. "I'm thrilled with that."

Click here for the complete story on CSNChicago.com