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 Posted: Mon Apr 24th, 2017 09:33 pm
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A once promising resurgence story has took an unfortunate turn.

Cleveland Indians right-hander Steve Delabar has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for a banned substance called Ostarine, the league announced Monday.

The 33-year-old, who signed a minor-league deal with the team in the offseason, was pitching for the Columbus Clippers, Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate.

Before being signed by the Seattle Mariners on a minor-league deal in 2011, Delabar was able to regain his fastball velocity thanks to a conditioning program he introduced while he was an assistant baseball coach in Kentucky.

The career revival led to success as Delabar was an All-Star in 2013 with the Toronto Blue Jays after posting a 3.22 ERA and 82 strikeouts. Since then, the right-hander has failed to recapture that level of performance, posting a combined 5.29 ERA in 68 games with the Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 24th, 2017 09:35 pm
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Andrew Benintendi of the Boston Red Sox had quite the day Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles, going 5-for-5, while breaking a record previously belonging to legendary slugger Babe Ruth in the process.

Benintendi's five singles made him the youngest Red Sox player in history (22 years, 291 days) to go 5-for-5 or better since Ruth accomplished the feat at 23 years, 92 days, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

He also became the third-youngest Red Sox player to record a five-hit game, ranking only behind Dalton Jones and Tony Conigliaro, and just ahead of Ruth, according to MLB Stat of the Day.

The multi-hit game was the sixth of the season for the 22-year-old, who is hitting .347/.415/.444 thus far.

When Ruth was Benintendi's age, he hit .325/.385/.472, but only managed to slug two home runs in 142 plate appearances.

That obviously changed, as the Hall of Famer ended up with 714 long balls during his 22-year career, most of which came with the New York Yankees.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 24th, 2017 09:37 pm
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One current and one former member of the Washington Nationals were named American League and National League Players of the Week on Monday.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper took home the honors in the senior circuit after hitting .550/.667/1.200 with three home runs, four doubles, and seven RBIs in six games.

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. was named the American League Player of the Week on his 28th birthday. He hit .414/.433/.759 with two home runs, two doubles, one triple, and nine RBIs in seven games.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 24th, 2017 09:37 pm
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The Los Angeles Angels announced Monday they've acquired right-handed reliever David Hernandez from the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

After signing a minor-league contract with the Braves at the end of March, Hernandez had yet to get into a big-league game with the club, but was impressive for their Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett, posting a 1.13 ERA during seven appearances, including nine strikeouts.

The 31-year-old veteran of seven big-league seasons appeared in 70 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016, striking out 80 across 72 2/3 innings.

Over the course of his career, Hernandez owns a 28-39 record with a 4.10 ERA across 379 appearances, including 27 starts.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 24th, 2017 11:27 pm
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The Arizona Diamondbacks placed starting pitcher Shelby Miller on the 10-day disabled list with elbow inflammation following an MRI on Monday, the team announced.

He will receive a second opinion Tuesday, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.

Miller left Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the top of the fifth inning after only 78 pitches. He walked two batters and allowed a double to Corey Seager before getting pulled.

At the time, Miller was reportedly experiencing forearm tightness.

The Diamondbacks recalled pitcher Silvino Bracho from Triple-A to take his roster spot. No rotation replacement or timetable for Miller's return has been announced.

After a catastrophic debut season with the Diamondbacks in 2016, when Miller went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA over 20 starts, his season looked more promising in the early going. Despite improvements, his 4.09 ERA and high walk rate paled in comparison to his numbers with the Atlanta Braves in 2015.

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 Posted: Mon Apr 24th, 2017 11:30 pm
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Boston Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes has been suspended four games for throwing at Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado's head Sunday, MLB announced Monday.

Barnes, who also received an undisclosed fine, will appeal the suspension.

In what appeared to be retaliation for Machado's spiking of Dustin Pedroia on Friday, Barnes threw a 90-mph pitch that narrowly missed Machado's head, instead connecting with the Orioles superstar's bat.

Barnes was immediately ejected from the game, while Machado appeared to immediately blame Pedroia for the incident. The Red Sox veteran, though, was adamant he had nothing to do with the play.

"I just told him I didn't have anything to do with that," Pedroia said after Sunday's game. "That's not how you do that, man."

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 Posted: Mon Apr 24th, 2017 11:32 pm
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Eric Thames' thunderous return to the major leagues has not been without its detractors.

The Milwaukee Brewers slugger leads the majors with eight home runs through his first 18 games after he combined to hit just 21 homers in 181 games during his first go-around in the league from 2011-12.

Thames' current success has led some around the league to question the transformation, with Chicago Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and right-hander John Lackey labeling Thames' recent run as "a head-scratcher."

While Thames didn't achieve early success in the majors, he did make a major impact playing in South Korea. He bashed 124 homers in 390 games during a three-year span in the KBO in which he reportedly never failed a drug test.

All foreign players in the KBO are tested at least once a year and are often tested several times, according to Daniel Kim of KBSN, who adds that Thames was tested several times while playing in the league and passed all of his tests.

Kim also reported that KBO tests are given at random without notice and that the testing is up to Olympic standards.

Thames is one of the first to acknowledge that his red-hot streak has been a surprise, and he never thought he'd be the talk of the majors.

"I was telling my hitting coach back home (in California), 'I have no idea what's going on,'" Thames said last week. "That's what happens when you're on a streak."

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 Posted: Tue Apr 25th, 2017 10:50 pm
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The first month of the 2017 Major League Baseball campaign has been all about Eric Thames' rise to excellence, as the slugger - who spent the past three seasons dominating in Korea - has feasted on big-league pitching in his return.

That was no different Monday night, as the Milwaukee Brewers first baseman belted two more home runs against the Cincinnati Reds, giving him an MLB-leading 10 on the season, seven of which have come against Cincinnati.


With the pair of blasts, Thames became just the second player in history to hit seven home runs in April against one team, joining Willie Stargell, who hammered eight against the Atlanta Braves in 1971, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

And upon closer inspection, Thames' and Stargell's first months weren't only comparable because of that oddball stat. In fact, their April lines were quite similar.

Thames spoke with reporters after his game Monday and credited a lot of his success with relaxing, having fun, and not trying to do too much.

"When I was a prospect and (breaking into) the big leagues, I stressed out a lot. I drank a lot. I was just like, 'Oh my God, I have to hit a home run or I'm going back to Double-A and Triple-A," he explained to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.

"Now, in Korea and here, I'm just like, 'OK, I'm going to do my job, I'm going to work as hard as I can, and when it's time for game time, just relax and let it all go.' It's amazing when stress levels decrease and you start to actually have fun and be loose and be able to react. It's crazy."

Thames still has six days left in April to potentially produce even more damage.

If Thames can replicate Stargell's 1971 campaign in full - the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder was an All-Star, finished second in MVP voting, and led the NL in home runs with 48 - the Brewers will most certainly take it, and will look like geniuses after rolling the dice and signing him to a multiyear deal in the offseason.

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 Posted: Tue Apr 25th, 2017 10:51 pm
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Pablo Sandoval's snake-bitten tenure with the Boston Red Sox continues. The third baseman was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right knee sprain Tuesday, retroactive to April 24.

Sandoval hurt his knee attempting to field a ground ball Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.

"Medial side of the right knee is what’s been sprained," manager John Farrell told SiriusXM's MLB Radio, according to CSNNE.com's Evan Drellich. "I don't know how long this one’s going to take.

"It looked like kind of a benign play at the time, and in between innings it really started to get sore on him. ... Added force as he was kind of rolling over the front side of that. He’s got some swelling in there, it really kind of swelled up on him pretty good."

Farrell said there's no timetable for Sandoval's return. In the meantime, third base will be covered by a combination of Josh Rutledge and Marco Hernandez, with an expanded role for utility hitter Brock Holt.

The earliest Sandoval could return is May 4, the end of a four-game series against the Orioles, though it's no lock.

Sandoval is hitting .213 with three home runs and 10 RBIs over 17 games this season.

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 Posted: Tue Apr 25th, 2017 10:52 pm
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The Arizona Diamondbacks' surprisingly strong start to the season has begun to turn heads, and former general manager Dave Stewart believes he deserves some credit.

Stewart was relieved of his duties in September after two years at the helm and was replaced by Mike Hazen. Stewart was the catalyst behind the Zack Greinke signing as well as the audacious trade that sent Dansby Swanson to the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller.

Although he said at the time of his dismissal he had better things to do, the vindicated Stewart appears to be seeking some recognition for the club's early success.

"This means a lot to me because this is the same team, or very close to the one that I put on the field," Stewart said, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports.

"So basically all of those guys and baseball analysts who said I didn’t know what I was doing, it showed I knew exactly what I was doing. Everybody was just beat up and not living up to expectations.

So all of a sudden, it’s my fault. Well, it’s not my fault. I couldn’t prevent injuries or jump in their bodies to make them pitch better in the starting rotation. We put the right people on the field. So I don’t think anybody should be surprised how well those kids are playing. They’re healthy now. I knew this was going to happen. Everyone should have seen it coming."

Despite Stewart claiming the credit, he did inherit a team in 2014 already with Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, Robbie Ray, and Patrick Corbin.

He subsequently decided to trade Ender Inciarte - a great defensive outfielder - as part of the Miller deal, and got rid of Mark Trumbo and right-hander Jeremy Hellickson in separate trades.

Under Stewart and manager Chip Hale's guidance, the Diamondbacks went 148-176.

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 Posted: Tue Apr 25th, 2017 10:53 pm
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Desperate times call for desperate measures.

In a drastic attempt to shake things up, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will deploy catcher Russell Martin as his starting third baseman Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team announced.

While Martin did appear in a game at third base last season, he hasn't started at the position since 2013 when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

For his career, the 34-year-old veteran has played 16 games at the hot corner and has made 10 starts, eight of which came with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008.

The Blue Jays are currently without regular third baseman Josh Donaldson (calf) and recently lost starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to a hamstring injury. Temporarily manning the positions have been Darwin Barney, Chris Coghlan, and Ryan Goins, with Martin now the fourth player to get a start at third since Donaldson was placed on the 10-day disabled list.

Starting at catcher, Martin's typical position, is Jarrod Saltalamacchia who recently ended a streak of 12 straight strikeouts, breaking a Blue Jays record. Goins will be the starter at shortstop with Barney at second base.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 26th, 2017 09:48 pm
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Eric Thames' hit his league-leading 11th home run Tuesday, but he's most likely leading baseball in drug tests, as well.

Following Milwaukee's convincing 9-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds that saw the 30-year-old slugger become the first Brewers player to hit 11 home runs in April, Thames took part in a random drug test conducted by the league.

He doesn't appear fazed.

"This whole thing is surprising me as well," he said, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. "I really have no goals for this year. I'm not trying to break any records or set anything. I just wanted to apply what I learned in Korea and see how it would fit here. I'm shocked at all the results, I'm just here to play ball, do my best to stay healthy and stretch as much as I can.

"If people keep thinking I'm on stuff, I'll be here every day. I have a lot of blood and urine."


It was Thames' third blood test in 2017, McCalvy notes, with the first coming in spring training, the second coming in Chicago (presumably at the request of Chicago Cubs John Lackey and Chris Bosio) and finally, one tonight.

As long as Thames continues to mash, these drug tests will likely persist. Haters gonna hate.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 26th, 2017 09:51 pm
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With a triple in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner has become the third Nationals player ever to hit for the cycle, and the second player across Major League Baseball to accomplish the feat this season.

Turner's hot night started in the first when he singled off Rockies starter German Marquez. An inning later, he doubled in his next at-bat, before homering in the sixth off Jordan Lyles.

Turner joins Brad Wilkerson and Cristian Guzman to pull off the elusive accomplishment as members of the Nationals. When including the team's time as the Montreal Expos from 1969-2004, Turner's cycle is still just the ninth in franchise history.

San Diego Padres first baseman Wil Myers was the first to hit for the cycle this season. His feat came April 10, also against the Rockies.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 26th, 2017 09:57 pm
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#HDMH when it comes to #PitchersWhoRake. pic.twitter.com/yoeZDj9zba

— MLB (@MLB) April 26, 2017
Marcus Stroman is evidently a man of many talents.

Making a rare appearance in the batter's box Tuesday in place of reliever Jason Grilli, Stroman connected with an 11th-inning pinch-hit double off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Miguel Socolovich to quickly put himself in scoring position and earn himself the first hit of his major-league career.

The two-bagger also earned Stroman recognition in the Blue Jays' history books, becoming the first Toronto pitcher to record a pinch hit.

Stroman then came around to score the game-winning run just two batters later thanks to a throwing error by shortstop Aledmys Diaz, as the Blue Jays held on to defeat the Cardinals 6-5.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 26th, 2017 09:59 pm
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Hindsight is 20/20.

New York Mets ace Noah Syndergaard is dominating batters. He's a legitimate alternative to Clayton Kershaw as a Cy Young award favorite in the National League.

But in 2012, Syndergaard had yet to even step on a major league mound when the Toronto Blue Jays traded him, catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, and others for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

While it may be easy to look at each player's trajectory over the past few seasons and determine the Mets came out the winners of the swap, nothing was a guarantee at the time of the deal. Dickey, now with the Atlanta Braves, told Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post he doesn't see the deal as a loss for the Blue Jays.

"I don’t think of (the deal) in term of wins and losses," Dickey said. "I think of it in terms of timing, what was the need at the time. Everybody knew Noah was going to be pretty good. It was just a matter of time."

It didn't take too long. Syndergaard debuted in 2015 and has improved with every season.

The Blue Jays had also just acquired Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson from the Miami Marlins the month before acquiring Dickey. While the pieces didn't all come together like the team - and fan base - might have wanted, it was clear that then-general manager Alex Anthopolous was pushing for a win-now mentality.

So, he acquired the reigning NL Cy Young winner in Dickey. The Blue Jays traded plenty of prospects that offseason, and only Syndergaard has emerged as a top-flight MLB talent to date.

Dickey returns to New York this week for a series between the Braves and Mets. It will be his first time pitching at Citi Field since his last season in Queens. He pitched against them once with the Blue Jays, but that took place at Rogers Centre in Toronto in 2015.

The two will actually get a chance to have their showdown on Thursday. Initially, the Mets were going to skip starter Robert Gsellman in the rotation to have Syndergaard pitch Wednesday. According to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, this is no longer the case. It will be "Thor" vs. Dickey Thursday night.

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