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 Posted: Fri May 11th, 2012 05:18 pm
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lobo316



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According to Ken Rosenthal.....(he makes it clear no trade will likely happen).
Still, an interesting read for Philly fans

 

 

I don’t care what Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says — I’ll believe his team is a seller when I see it.

But know this:

According to major league sources, at least one club — the Toronto Blue Jays — already has engaged in dialogue with the Phils about their top potential free agents, left-hander Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino.

Now hold your tweeting fingers and continue reading. No trade is close. No trade is even likely. And context is important:
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos routinely inquires on star players, just as he did last offseason when he talked to the Seattle Mariners about right-handers Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda.
  • The Phillies are not going to quit on the season easily, not when they already have sold more than 3 million tickets and assembled a $175 million payroll, second only to the New York Yankees.
  • The Phillies can’t give up on the season easily, not until they get a better sense of how second baseman Chase Utley (knee) and first baseman Ryan Howard (Achilles) will contribute when healthy.
But Amaro, while not specifically addressing the Blue Jays as a potential trade partner, told FOXSports.com on Thursday night that he is not ruling out any possibilities.

“My job is to keep all lines of communication open, for the good of the club today and tomorrow,” Amaro said. “I can’t shut any doors down. You try to be creative. And there are a lot of creative GMs out there who have different goals.”

Amaro first mentioned the possibility of the Phillies as sellers to CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury earlier Thursday. It sounded as if he was speaking out of frustration or trying to send a message to his players. But Amaro said he was only being realistic.

“If we continue to play like this and keep dropping out of the race, it’s going to be tough to be buyers,” he said. “The one way we can be buyers is by keeping our heads above water — if we’re five games out, seven games out, within striking distance, then yeah.

“But if a couple of teams pull away, run away with this thing and we’re not up to the task, then you never know. Sometimes you can be buyers and sellers at the same time. That situation might present itself, too.

“I don’t expect us to be in a seller’s mode. But I also have to be realistic. If the team decides it doesn’t want to play the way we expect to play or play the caliber of baseball necessary to win, you can’t squeeze blood from a stone.”

True, but the Phillies still boast three of the best pitchers in the game — Hamels, right-hander Roy Halladay and lefty Cliff Lee. And the team, for all its troubles, is just 5 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East and just 4 1/2 games out of the second wild card.

I know that the Phillies, after winning five straight division titles, are not accustomed to such relative mediocrity. I know they’ve depleted their farm system in recent years by trading for Halladay, Lee and outfielder Hunter Pence. But my advice to Amaro would be to take a deep breath — several deep breaths, actually.

Of course, now that Amaro has uttered the “S” word, the mere idea of the Phillies trading Hamels and Victorino is certain to spark the imaginations not just of media members and fans, but also the GMs who actually make deals.

The Jays, for one, would be downright formidable with Hamels, left-hander Ricky Romero and righty Brandon Morrow fronting their rotation — and/or with Victorino replacing the yawn-inducing Colby Rasmus in center field.

Other teams, though, would harbor similar notions if the Phillies actually got serious about selling.

The Los Angeles Dodgers could get an early jump on the Hamels sweepstakes by acquiring him at midseason. The Yankees surely would slobber over the prized lefty. The Detroit Tigers could pair him with righty Justin Verlander.

Then there are the Texas Rangers, who were No. 1 in Baseball America’s most recent organizational talent rankings and are deep enough in prospects to make practically any move they want.

How about Victorino, a switch-hitting center fielder who would enable them to move Josh Hamilton to left for the rest of the season?

We could play this game forever, but regardless of what the Phillies do, the Blue Jays are in a fascinating spot.

The changing dynamics of the AL East — specifically, the struggles of the Yankees and Boston Red Sox — could create a rare opening for the Jays, who have not made the postseason since 1993.

The Jays, at their best, might not be good enough to claim even the second wild card — their rotation features three young starters, their bullpen without injured closer Sergio Santos is a mess and Anthopoulos was concerned enough about his offense Thursday to sign free agent Vladimir Guerrero to a minor-league contract.

On the other hand, the Jays can reasonably expect to improve. Santos, recovering from a shoulder issue, has resumed throwing. Right fielder Jose Bautista is far better than his current slash line of .182/.316/.345. And the team, No. 5 in Baseball America’s talent rankings, is well-positioned to trade for the right veteran, or two.

In fact, Anthopoulos told FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi last November that he would be more comfortable making major moves once he had a chance to assess his team and its postseason chances.

“In season, when you know who’s healthy, when you know who’s having a good year, when you know what your competition is doing, that’s when you potentially look to go big,” Anthopoulos said. “You have a much better understanding of the current landscape.”

Actually, the landscape has changed since Anthopoulos made those comments — the new collective-bargaining agreement not only created the second wild card, but also changed the rules for draft-pick compensation.

Anthopoulos no longer can apply his strategy of acquiring potential free agents and collecting draft picks after they depart; only players who remain with their teams for the entire season are eligible for compensation.

The second wild card, intended to boost pennant-race drama, also might inhibit some teams from buying. Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane famously called the playoffs a crapshoot. He might need to invent a new phrase for the one-game wild-card round.

Seriously, how motivated will a team such as the Jays be to sacrifice long-term goals if the short-term prize is an elimination game against a pitcher such as the AngelsJered Weaver?

All of these questions will be addressed in the weeks and months ahead — it’s not even mid-May, and the non-waiver deadline is July 31. But already we’ve got one potentially surprising seller and one potentially surprising buyer.

Let the twists and turns begin.

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 Posted: Sat May 12th, 2012 04:37 pm
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lobo316



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The Baltimore Orioles have placed reliever Matt Lindstrom on the 15-day disabled list with a right middle finger injury.

The team also purchased the contract of left-hander Dana Eveland from AAA Norfolk. Eveland started for Baltimore against Tampa Bay on Friday night.

Lindstrom has a 1.29 earned-run average with 14 strikeouts in 13 appearances.

Eveland came to the Orioles last December in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA in six starts for Norfolk.

To make room for Eveland on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated infielder Zelous Wheeler for assignment.

In other news, left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery Friday in Los Angeles.

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 Posted: Sun May 13th, 2012 04:04 am
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Yoenis Cespedes returned to the batting cage Saturday, then the bench.

This time, he'll stay there a little longer.

The Oakland Athletics placed the powerful Cuban defector on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his left hand that has bothered the center fielder for days. An MRI exam earlier this week revealed the strain and no further tests are scheduled.

"Anytime it's a hand for a hitter, you want to make sure he's 100 percent before he goes out there," assistant general manager David Forst said. "We tried to treat it and have him play at the same time. Clearly, he wasn't feeling 100 percent, so we're going to be cautious at this point and have him do nothing until he can tell us there is absolutely zero pain there."

The roster move followed a bizarre afternoon.

Cespedes had declared himself "100 percent" healthy and ready to return earlier in the clubhouse. Instead, Cespedes complained of discomfort in his hand and cut his batting practice short.

The center fielder mostly hit a few grounders and line drives. He sent one ball into the left-field seats, however, the towering 500-foot home runs he often smacks disappeared.

"I feel so happy. I was here doing nothing. I was bored," Cespedes said about returning to the lineup before batting practice, speaking through Ariel Prieto, the former A's pitcher who was called off his minor league coaching assignment this year to be the Cuban's interpreter and mentor as he adjusts to life in the United States.

Now he'll have to find something to do again.

In another odd twist, the A's originally announced they recalled Michael Taylor from Triple-A Sacramento to replace Cespedes. But because Taylor had been assigned to Sacramento a day earlier, the club couldn't make Cespedes' DL retroactive to Tuesday, so Oakland instead recalled Josh Donaldson.

Cespedes is eligible to come off the disabled list May 22.

Also, slugger [url=http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/29248/kila-ka'aihue]Kila Ka'aihue[/url] was a late scratch from the lineup. He strained a hamstring sliding into second Friday night, Forst said, but is not expected to land on the disabled list.

Of far bigger concern in Cespedes' status.

Cespedes signed a $36 million, four-year deal this spring after defecting from Cuba. He is batting .245 with five homers and 21 RBIs this season, mostly in the cleanup spot, and has shown promising power.

Collin Cowgill replaced Cespedes and batted ninth.

A's manager Bob Melvin called placing Cespedes on the DL a "precautionary" move. Earlier in the afternoon, he had talked about how fortunate the low-budget club was to land such a prospect this offseason.

"We're not going to be able to sign the $15 million, $20 million (a year) free agent, so this is our best shot to get that type of talent," Melvin said. "It was a number that's manageable for us. I have to really give our scouting staff and our front office credit for taking the chance on a player like that, because he is a terrific talent, no doubt about that. He's just going to get better and better."

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 Posted: Sun May 13th, 2012 04:07 am
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MILWAUKEE -- The Chicago Cubs put Carlos Marmol on the disabled list Saturday with a strained right hamstring and recalled right-hander Casey Coleman from Triple-A Iowa.



Marmol was injured in the seventh inning of Friday night's 13-inning marathon when he delivered a pitch to the Brewers' Corey Hart. Entering the game with a three-run lead, Marmol already had given up a run on an Aramis Ramirez double.



"Marmol's going on the DL and Casey Coleman will be here sometime during the game," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

Coleman was en route to Milwaukee from Fresno, Calif., where the Iowa Cubs had just wrapped up a series. His flight was not expected to land in Milwaukee until 1:20 p.m. CST Saturday, nearly 1½ hours after the first pitch.

There is a good chance Coleman could be pressed into action not long after he arrives. The Cubs used every member of the bullpen Friday night, and Kerry Wood and Rafael Dolis (two innings each) were considered off-limits by Sveum.

Six of Coleman's seven appearances at Iowa were starts. He posted a 2-3 record with a 3.48 ERA in 33 2/3 innings and had 30 strikeouts and 16 walks. He is expected to be used as a long man out of the bullpen.

"He's a kind of guy you can use in different roles depending on what's going on that day," Sveum said. "He has the slider, he has different arm angles. He's a guy you can use if right-handers are coming up. But he's definitely a guy you will want to use two innings whenever you use him."

Marmol was expected to undergo an MRI Saturday in Chicago.

"We'll find out how bad it is but he got really sore when he was walking out last night," Sveum said. "It seemed to actually get worse. We'll just have to see."

Sveum added that it would be an option to send Marmol to Iowa for a rehab stint before he returns to the active roster. Marmol has struggled all season, posting a 6.35 ERA in 15 appearances, with a loss and two blown saves.

Last edited on Sun May 13th, 2012 04:08 am by lobo316

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 Posted: Mon May 14th, 2012 12:21 pm
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NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball dropped its 100-game suspension of Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo for a positive drug test because of the same procedural issues that came up in the Ryan Braun case.

Alfonzo is eligible to play immediately, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday night because no announcement had been made.

Mostly a backup during six major league seasons, Alfonzo became the first player suspended twice for performance-enhancing drugs under the MLB testing program when the commissioner's office announced a 100-game penalty last September.

Alfonzo appealed and was notified within the past week that MLB had lifted the ban. The reason: a dispute over the storage and shipment of his urine sample similar to the one that led to Braun's 50-game drug penalty getting overturned by an arbitrator in February, the person said.

The person was not familiar with specific details regarding the chain of custody of Alfonzo's specimen.

Alfonzo's contract was renewed by the Rockies in March, but he was not paid while he was on the restricted list during the suspension. He is currently assigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League, but the 33-year-old catcher has been at home in Venezuela, the person said.

Alfonzo gets the minimum $480,000 salary in the majors and $86,473 in the minors.

A message left for Rockies spokesman Jay Alves late Sunday night was not immediately returned.

Braun, last year's NL MVP, tested positive in October for elevated testosterone, which was revealed by ESPN's "Outside the Lines" in December. His sample was collected on Oct. 1, a Saturday and the day he and the Milwaukee Brewers opened the NL playoffs. The collector did not send the sample to the laboratory until Monday, thinking it would be more secure at home than at a Federal Express office during the weekend.

Baseball's drug agreement states that "absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected."

Braun appealed and when his ban was thrown out by arbitrator Shyam Das, MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said management "vehemently" disagreed with the decision, which made the Milwaukee slugger the first major league player to successfully challenge a drug-related penalty in a grievance.

During the hearing, Braun's side challenged the chain of custody from the time the urine sample was collected by Comprehensive Drug Testing Inc. to when it was sent, nearly 48 hours later, to a World Anti-Doping Agency-certified laboratory outside Montreal, two people familiar with the case said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because what took place in the hearing is supposed to be confidential.

Since then, MLB and the players' union have made some changes to collection procedures as a result of Das' decision.

Employees of Comprehensive Drug Testing, who take the specimens from players, are now required to drop the samples off at a Federal Express office on the same day they are collected, provided an office is open in the vicinity. If not, collectors should take the specimens home rather than leave them in a drop box. The prohibition against using drop boxes already was in the drug agreement between players and owners.

Alfonzo's penalty was dropped without a hearing before an arbitrator, the person said Sunday. The catcher missed the final 15 games of last season and Colorado has already played 33 games this year.

Under the major league drug agreement, first offenses are arbitrated before any public announcement -- but additional offenses are litigated after a suspension is announced.

Alfonzo also was suspended for 50 games in April 2008 while a member of the San Francisco Giants.

"I am surprised by this positive test," he said last September in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association. "I learned my lesson in 2008 and have not taken any prohibited substances since then. With the union's help, I intend to fight this suspension and look forward to appearing before the arbitrator in the near future."

After the suspension four years ago, Alfonzo said he never knowingly took steroids but did take medicine for bronchitis while home in Venezuela.

Manny Ramirez and Guillermo Mota are the only other major league players to be penalized twice for positive drug tests.

Baseball began testing with penalties in 2004. Under the current rules, a third violation would carry a lifetime ban.

Alfonzo is a .240 career hitter with 17 homers and 67 RBIs in 591 at-bats over 193 major league games. He has also played for San Diego and Seattle.

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 Posted: Mon May 14th, 2012 12:22 pm
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CHICAGO -- Left-hander Danny Duffy is scheduled for an MRI on Monday after he left the Kansas City Royals' 9-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox with elbow tightness.

Duffy faced three batters in the first inning and recorded two outs before catcher Humberto Quintero saw him shake out his arm at the end of a throw, prompting a mound visit from manager Ned Yost and a trainer.

"As soon as he said 'It's in my elbow,' I said 'That's it,'" Yost said. "We need to get that checked, see what's going on there, and go from there."

The 23-year-old Duffy was headed back to Kansas City on Sunday night. He also experienced tightness in his elbow last month.

"I think Q did the right thing. I felt a little tightness on the inner part of my elbow," he said. "You know, get an MRI tomorrow, check it out and see what it is. You can't worry about things like this until you know what it is."

Duffy is 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA in six starts this season.

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 Posted: Mon May 14th, 2012 12:23 pm
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CINCINNATI -- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the latest major setback for the NL East leaders.

Ramos' knee buckled as he chased a passed ball during the seventh inning of a 2-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night. He fell on his back in pain and had to be helped off the field, putting little weight on the knee.




Ramos


The Nationals feared that he'd torn the ligament, which was confirmed overnight by an MRI. The young catcher is the 11th Nationals player to go on the disabled list this season and the latest of several major leaguers to tear an ACL this month.

"We're going to have to start eating bananas or something to change our luck," manager Davey Johnson said before a rain-delayed game Sunday. "We've had more than our fair share of key players go down."

The Nationals called up catcher Sandy Leon from Double-A Harrisburg to back up Jesus Flores. The 23-year-old Leon was batting .319 with a homer and 12 RBIs in 27 games at Harrisburg.

It's been a rough seven months for Ramos, who had one of the best seasons by a major league rookie last year. He went home to Venezuela to play winter ball and was abducted at gunpoint in front of his parents' home in Valencia.

Police commandos freed him two days later and arrested suspects who were trying to demand ransom. Ramos got 11/11/11 -- the date he was freed -- tattooed on his arm.

He tore up his knee Saturday when his spikes caught in the grass as he planted his foot to pick up the ball, forcing his knee to buckle. He fell to the ground in severe pain.

The Nationals have managed to stay in first place in the NL East despite a series of injuries that sapped every part of the team. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman recently returned from a sore right shoulder that forced him to miss 13 games. Relief pitchers Drew Storen and Brad Lidge, left fielder Mike Morse and utility man Mark DeRosa were among those who went on the disabled list in the opening month.

The past week has been especially tough. Right fielder Jayson Werth had surgery Monday to repair a broken left wrist that's expected to sideline him for at least three months. On Friday night, rookie outfielder Bryce Harper needed 10 stitches to close a gash above his left eye, caused by slamming a bat against a wall near the dugout.

Harper was back in the lineup Saturday. Seven innings later, Ramos got hurt.

There's been a rash of knee injuries in the major leagues already this month.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera tore the ACL in his right knee while chasing a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. Rivera, baseball's career saves leader, hopes to return next season.

The Brewers lost two infielders to the same injury. First baseman Mat Gamel tore his right ACL while chasing a foul pop on May 1 and hitting the wall at Petco Park in San Diego. Four days later, shortstop Alex Gonzalez tore his right ACL while sliding into second base.



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 Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 01:01 pm
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp was placed on the 15-day disabled list following the team's 3-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night, a move club officials had decided to make before the game.

Kemp underwent an MRI exam earlier in the day that showed a strain in his left hamstring, which had been bothering him for more than a week.



The club recalled outfielder-first baseman Jerry Sands from Triple-A Albuquerque to fill Kemp's roster spot.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the media before the game that Kemp was available to pinch hit, but Mattingly said after the game that Kemp wasn't, in fact, available, meaning the Dodgers simply had been hoping to keep the Diamondbacks in the dark about Kemp's status. By not appearing in the game, Kemp ended his consecutive-games streak, which had been the longest in the majors, at 399 games.

For now, the injury isn't expected to sideline Kemp longer than 15 days. He will be eligible to return on May 29 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

"They had to talk me into it a little bit,'' said Kemp, whose only previous DL stint came in April 2007. "It's hard to sit out 15 days. I was going crazy watching (this game). But we have a bunch of good guys on this team. They will continue to play well. When I come back, I will help them any way I can to help us win.''

Kemp had said publicly following Sunday's game, which he left after the third inning when the hamstring flared up, that he "definitely'' wasn't going on the DL. But after meeting with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache following the MRI, Kemp eventually became convinced that this was the right course of action.



"It's a mild strain," Mattingly said. "But Doc told him if he did it again, it would go from a Grade 1 to a Grade 2. ... That was the thing Doc said to Matt before the game, that we need to get this healthy and let it heal up and not let it be a problem all year.''

The development came at the end of a day in which the Dodgers already had lost their primary third baseman, Juan Uribe, to the disabled list with continued soreness in his left wrist, meaning Mattingly will have to do a lot of mixing and matching over the next couple of weeks with what is undeniably a depleted roster.

Mattingly said Tony Gwynn Jr. will get the bulk of the starts in center field, but that right fielder Andre Ethier, who has never played center during the regular season in the majors but did play there at Arizona State University and also started there for the National League in the 2010 All-Star Game -- also could get a couple of starts there if Mattingly wants to insert Sands into right field.

Elian Herrera, who was promoted from Albuquerque earlier in the day to take Uribe's spot, also could see time in center.


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     Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 01:02 pm
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    TORONTO -- Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jeff Niemann is expected to miss four to six weeks after fracturing his right leg during Monday night's 7-1 win over Toronto.

    Niemann was struck on the ankle by Adam Lind's drive with runners at first and second in the first inning. He recovered to make the out, but walked gingerly around the mound and was checked by the trainer before finishing the inning.

    Niemann came out and warmed up to start the second, but was removed after a conference on the mound with the trainer and manager Joe Maddon. Left-hander Cesar Ramos came on and earned the win while Niemann went to the hospital for X-rays.

    "It's not easy to lose a pitcher of his caliber," Maddon said.

    The Rays did not put a timetable on Niemann's return, but the fracture will likely take four to six weeks to heal.

    Maddon said the Rays will call up a reliever Tuesday to help out until Niemann's spot in the rotation comes up again, adding that he'd prefer not to move Wade Davis back to the rotation.

    Niemann missed more than six weeks last season with a sore lower back, going 11-4 after his return in late June.

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     Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 01:04 pm
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    TORONTO -- The Tampa Bay Rays have placed outfielder Desmond Jennings on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 12, and recalled utilityman Stephen Vogt from Triple-A Durham.



    Vogt was expected to join the Rays in time for Monday night's game at Toronto.

    Jennings left a May 6 game against Oakland with a sprained left knee, but has made two pinch-hit appearances since. He grounded out in the ninth inning of Friday's loss at Baltimore.

    Jennings is one of seven Rays players currently on the DL, a list that also includes third baseman Evan Longoria (torn left hamstring), closer Kyle Farnsworth (right elbow), catcher Robinson Chirinos (concussion) and outfielder Sam Fuld (right wrist).

    Vogt, who can catch and play in the outfield, made Tampa Bay's Opening Day roster but was optioned to Durham on April 20 when the Rays activated B.J. Upton off the DL. The rookie was hitless in 13 at-bats over seven games, the worst start to a career by any player in Rays history.



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     Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 01:05 pm
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    BALTIMORE -- New York Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova left Monday's 8-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles with a contusion and sprains of his right foot and ankle.

    The Yankees announced that X-rays were negative.

    Nova left after fielding a high-hopping ground ball off the bat of Orioles infielder Wilson Betemit in the sixth inning.



    Three innings earlier, Nova had taken a hard smash off the bat of Nick Markakis off his right ankle, but remained in the game despite hobbling around for a while after the play.

    It was unclear whether the second injury was related to the first, but it was obvious that Nova was in pain as he came down after snagging Betemit's ball and flipping to first baseman Mark Teixeira to complete the out at first.

    Manager Joe Girardi and a team trainer went out to the mound to examine Nova, who was removed from the game and replaced by left-hander Clay Rapada. Nova walked from the field without assistance but appeared to be limping slightly.

    Nova allowed seven hits, including a long home run by J.J. Hardy, and five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, but left with the game tied, 5-5.

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     Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 04:48 pm
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    CHICAGO -- The White Sox reinstated relief pitcher Jesse Crain from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday and designated pitcher Eric Stults for assignment.

    Crain was placed on the DL April 27 (retroactive to April 21) due to a strained left oblique. He threw a scoreless inning in each of his two rehab appearances for Triple-A Charlotte Friday and Sunday.

    Crain last pitched for the White Sox on April 20, and has made six appearances with a 2.57 ERA this season.

    Stults was 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two games, including one start, since being called up from Charlotte.

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     Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 04:50 pm
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    BOSTON -- When the Red Sox took an early round of infield practice Monday afternoon, they did so with a familiar cast: Adrian Gonzalez at first, Dustin Pedroia at second, Mike Aviles at short, and yes, Kevin Youkilis at third.

    "He looked pretty good taking ground balls today," manager Bobby Valentine said. "I wouldn't think he's very far away. ... He looked really good moving around.





    "Yesterday, he took 10 swings on a soft toss, 30 dry swings. He'll hit some balls today."
    But it won't be in a game. Youkilis (back strain) was eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Monday, but that did not happen. Asked by ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald when he expected to be activated, Youkilis answered with a shrug.

    The Sox will head out on an eight-game trip starting Wednesday at Tampa Bay but Valentine was noncommittal when asked if Youkilis would be activated then.

    "I have no idea," the manager said. "Whenever the medical (staff) and Kevin say he's ready. All I'm saying, my eyes saw him taking ground balls. He looked good throwing and fielding."

    The Red Sox have a decision to make once they do activate Youkilis: what to do with rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who since his May 2 callup has put up some history-bending numbers. He is just the third player in major league history to hit at least four home runs and drive in at least 13 runs in his first 10 games in the big leagues, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He also has five doubles, his nine extra-base hits the most by a Sox player in his first nine games since at least 1918.

    Going back to the Great War, only two other Red Sox players hit at least four home runs in his first 10 games: Sam Horn (5 in 1987) and Billy Conigliaro (4 in 1969). So, as a predictor of future big-league stardom, that is clearly an unreliable barometer.

    Still, Middlebrooks has made a significant impact on the Sox offense since being promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket, raising the question of how the Red Sox can justify sending him back.

    "I think that's a little premature," Valentine said when asked how the Red Sox plan to address the issue. "We'll do exactly what's right. Those things usually play themselves out. No need to make a decision until it's time to make a decision."

    Youkilis was batting .219 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 18 games before he went on the DL. The three-time All-Star is in the last year of a contract paying him $12 million this year ($13 million club option for 2013), and Middlebrooks, the team's fifth-round draft choice in 2007, projected to be in line to succeed him.

    But his auspicious debut has raised the question of whether the Sox would accelerate that timetable. Talent evaluators for four major league clubs said last week they believe there would be a strong market for Youkilis, especially if the Sox ate a significant portion of his salary, but that teams would need to see whether the 33-year-old veteran was healthy. Youkilis has played fewer than 140 games in each of the last three seasons, and his injury history diminishes his value to some degree.

    On the other hand, Youkilis when healthy has remained a highly productive hitter, though his career-low .258 average in 2011, when he battled back, hernia and hip injuries, threw up a definite red flag. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said last week Youkilis would not lose his starting position because of an injury.

    Valentine was asked about the relative merits of keeping Middlebrooks on the bench here as opposed to returning him to Pawtucket.

    "Sitting on the bench is not a place for very many players, especially good young talented players," he said. "What would be the purpose of having someone sit on the bench, unless there was a useful purpose for him not being in a starting role but able to contribute to a team's wins? Is there a place for him to do that? I'm not sure."

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     Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 07:07 pm
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    lobo316



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    CHICAGO -- White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn will play left field for the first time since 2010 when they visit the Chicago Cubs this weekend, manager Robin Ventura said Tuesday.



    "I have been taking some fly balls in left, but you can't simulate how it will go in a game," Dunn said. "I anticipate it will go good; once I get out there I am sure it will all come back."

    Dunn is tied for second in the American League with 12 home runs and third with 28 RBIs as he comes back from a dreadful season, during which he hit .159 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 122 games. Before joining the White Sox two seasons ago, Dunn had seasons of 40, 40 and 38 home runs.

    "You look at the lineup and how important he is for us," Ventura said. "He has been hitting third for us most of the time, so that becomes a factor getting him in there."

    Dunn has 25 home runs at Wrigley Field, which ties him with Albert Pujols for most by an active opposing player.

    Dunn has played 1,099 games in the outfield. He spent his entire career in the National League before signing a four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox on Dec. 9, 2010.

    Ventura will sit regular left fielder Dayan Viciedo, who had his best game of the season Monday, hitting a home run and driving in a career-high four runs.

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     Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 07:08 pm
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    lobo316



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    MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau remains on track to be reinstated from the disabled list.




    Morneau took another round of early batting practice on Tuesday, his 31st birthday, to test his sore left wrist and told team trainers he's feeling fine. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Morneau could come off the DL after the game against Cleveland to join the team's upcoming road trip. The trip includes a three-game interleague series this weekend at Milwaukee, so the Twins want him to be comfortable enough to play the field as well as hit.
    Center fielder Denard Span wasn't in the lineup on Tuesday because of a sore right hamstring. Gardenhire said Span is day to day.



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