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Twins reliever Graham drops 40 pounds

News service reportsFORT MYERS, Fla. -- Terry Ryan did a double take recently when he passed Minnesota Twins pitcher J.R. Graham."He looked like a different human being," said Ryan, the Twins' general manager.After ending his rookie season at 210...

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Minnesota Twins relief pitcher J.R. Graham throws during the eighth inningof an April 13, 2015, game at Target Field in Minneapolis. Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS

News service reports
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Terry Ryan did a double take recently when he passed Minnesota Twins pitcher J.R. Graham.
“He looked like a different human being,” said Ryan, the Twins’ general manager.
After ending his rookie season at 210 pounds, the 6-foot right-hander shed 40 pounds by giving up alcohol, revamping his diet and improving his sleep habits.
When he weighed in this week, Graham was back up to 175 pounds, but he has interest in filling out a uniform the way he did early last October.
“No one told me to go lose weight,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I just wanted to eat better. It just kind of came off.”
There was no scary moment that sent Graham into full-blown shed mode. Rather, it was a realization that he didn’t feel his best as his first big-league season wound to a close.
“Everyone tells you coming up that it’s a long season,” the former Rule 5 draft pick said. “I’ve been through three minor-league seasons and that was my first big-league season. I knew I should feel better. I knew I should be in better shape. I knew there were aspects I needed to improve on, and I think diet was a big one.”
The last time Graham was this light, he said, was early in the 2013 season, while pitching in the Atlanta Braves’ system. Then he hurt his shoulder, and a long period of inactivity and rehab led to a conscious decision to build up his lower half.
“After the injury, that’s when I started gaining weight,” he said. “It was actually a plan of mine. After an injury, guys get a little bigger, kind of to protect your body, but that didn’t work for me. I work well at this (weight) level. I’ve done it my entire life.”
Around the majors
Center fielder Dexter Fowler appeared on his way to Baltimore but instead the veteran made a shocking reversal and re-signed with the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
Fowler agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2017, according to the Cubs. The deal reportedly calls for an
$8 million base salary this season and $9 million in 2017 with a $5 million buyout.
Fowler, who turns 30 next month, batted .250 with 17 homers last season while helping the Cubs reach the National League Championship Series.
The retention of Fowler comes two days after multiple media outlets reported that he signed a three-year,
$35 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles.
r Rolling slides to break up double plays will not be permitted starting with this season, according to new regulations adopted by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association.
The World Umpires Association also approved the banishment of so-called block slides after New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada suffered a broken leg on a takeout at second base in last year’s playoffs by Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Chase Utley.
According to the new sliding rules, a runner is required to make a bona fide attempt to reach the base or an umpire can call the runner and the batter out.
r MLB and the players’ union also signed off on two new pace of play initiatives designed to help speed up the game.
The pace of play program is being expanded from last year to include timed 30-second visits to the mound by managers and coaches and a reduction by 20 seconds of broadcast breaks between innings.
MLB said last year’s pace of game directives, which included the batter’s box rule and decreased break time between innings and pitching changes, resulted in the average length of games falling to 2:56:14 from 3:02:21.

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