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 Posted: Thu May 25th, 2017 02:40 am
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lobo316



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As the Toronto Blue Jays slowly begin to receive promising news on the injury front, the same can't be said when it comes to Aaron Sanchez and his lingering finger injury.

The 24-year-old starter, who landed on the disabled list for the third time this year because of the same problem, was understandably frustrated on Tuesday, providing a somber update on the ailment.

"It's not getting any better," Sanchez said, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith. "I can't keep having this issue every inning and have to go check. This game's already hard enough to have to go out there and compete.

"I'm beating myself up trying to go in there and pitch through it. It's not doing me any good, it's not doing the team any good."

Sanchez most recently pitched on May 19 against the Baltimore Orioles and lasted six innings with his fastball regularly touching 97 mph. It wasn't until after the game that Sanchez revealed he was, once again, feeling discomfort in the same finger. He was placed on the disabled list less than 24 hours later.

"The only thing that's going to help it heal is not doing anything, not playing catch, just letting it heal," Sanchez said. "It kind of sucks not being able to play catch, but when I play catch it's the last thing that hits my finger, so every single time I'm throwing the ball it's getting hurt and hurt."

The issue first started as a blister that eventually forced Sanchez to visit a finger specialist who removed the nail completely. He's made two starts since, one of which caused his middle finger to bleed on May 14 against the Seattle Mariners.

The Blue Jays, naturally concerned about the status of last year's American League ERA leader, have maintained that there is no timetable for Sanchez's return. The club continues to be without J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano, though the latter appears closest to coming back.

In five starts this year, Sanchez has combined to a 3.33 ERA with 18 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP.

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 Posted: Thu May 25th, 2017 02:42 am
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lobo316



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It was only a matter of time before Edwin Encarnacion turned the corner.

The Cleveland Indians first baseman is starting to show signs of what made him one of the most feared hitters in the American League over the past half-decade as his bat heats up with the weather.

Encarnacion blasted a pair of home runs Tuesday in an 8-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds for his first multi-homer game with the Tribe since inking a three-year, $60-million deal over the winter.

"I think he's getting more dangerous," Indians manager Terry Francona said Tuesday, according to MLB.com. "He's hit a number of balls just foul, but he's barreling them up. I think you're going to see nights like this won't be the only time."

The three-time All-Star hit .198/.342/.328 with five home runs, two doubles, 12 RBIs, and 46 strikeouts over his first 37 games, but he's gotten into a grove over the past week. Encarnacion is hitting .296/.345/.815 with four homers, two doubles, and eight RBIs in his last seven games.

Getting off to a slow start is nothing new for Encarnacion, though forgive some fans in Ohio for hitting the panic button early due to their unfamiliarity with the slugger.

Encarnacion is a career .243/.324/.433 hitter in April, and things don't usually get much better in May as he sports an eerily similar .243/.326/.491 line the following month. But it's June, July, and August when Encarnacion really shows off his strengths, and recent performance indicates he's right on track to follow that.

Encarnacion's resurgence has directly impacted the Indians' fortunes in the win column, as well. Cleveland has won four of its last five games - including a three-game road sweep against the Houston Astros, with Encarnacion hitting .300/.333/.850 with three homers, two doubles, and six RBIs.

"I feel really good, and I feel better every single day," Encarnacion told reporters following Tuesday's two-homer night.

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 Posted: Thu May 25th, 2017 02:43 am
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lobo316



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As Major League Baseball continues to mull the possibility of international expansion, commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday he wants to see regular-season games played in Mexico City.

"We think it's time to move past exhibition games and play real-live 'they-count' games in Mexico," Manfred told reporters, including MLB.com's Richard Justice, ahead of Tuesday's game between the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. "That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major Leauge team."

Identified last year as a front-runner to land an expansion franchise, Mexico City hosted a two-game exhibition series in 2016 - the first MLB action in the Mexican capital in 12 years - and Manfred has said that "making a full-time commitment in Mexico would very important." International regular-season play was jointly agreed to in the new collective bargaining agreement, too, so the league could conceivably start scheduling games in Mexico City as soon as 2018.

"We're hopeful that what we see in Mexico will continue to encourage us that that's a possibility (for expansion)," Manfred said. "We also had a good experience with the (World Baseball Classic) in Mexico. The venue was a good one. It sold well. We had good crowds - another positive in terms of more Major League-level baseball in Mexico."

Whether Mexico City remains a viable market for an MLB franchise, however, remains to be seen. Executives and economists are torn on the issue, and the ensuing logistics, though Mexican-born MLB players remain enamored of the possibility.

"I think all of Mexico would travel to wherever the team is," Adrian Gonzalez, the five-time All-Star raised in Tijuana, told ESPN's Thomas Neumann last year. "It would be a team for the whole country. I think for the most part, people from all over the country would make their way just for the games."

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 Posted: Thu May 25th, 2017 02:44 am
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lobo316



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PITTSBURGH - The family of baseball Hall of Famer Willie Stargell said it is hurt and angry that his widow is auctioning his memorabilia, including his World Series ring and his National League MVP award.

The auction, being conducted by SCP Auctions Inc., began Wednesday, the Post-Gazette reported. The items were selected by his second wife, Margaret Weller-Stargell.

Dolores Stargell, who was married to the late Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman from 1962 to 1983, said she, her children, and her grandchildren weren't told about the auction. She said they were "completely blindsided" by the auction and that her anger was "released" upon hearing of it.

Her daughter is handicapped and her son, a Gulf War veteran, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said Stargell. The family is living in poverty, she added.

In a letter on Facebook she helped them write, the children said, "Dad would want the accomplishments of his lifetime achievements to be on display and enjoyed by all, as opposed to sitting in someone's basement collecting dust."

Weller-Stargell said the auction is legal.

"Willie made the decision years before his death that he wanted these items left to me because I know that he trusted me to do what was in the best interests of both a game that he loved, the Pirates organization and its fans that he honored and respected," she said in a statement.

Weller-Stargell plans to donate some of the proceeds to charity. The recipients are to include a dialysis unit at a Wilmington, North Carolina, hospital and the kidney disease foundation that was started in her late husband's name. She will receive the rest of the money from the auction.

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 Posted: Thu May 25th, 2017 02:45 am
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lobo316



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The Toronto Blue Jays' front office isn't prepared to label themselves as sellers with more than two months to go before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Despite sitting in last place in the American League East at 20-26, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins remains optimistic and will chart a course for the franchise depending on how the club plays when some of their star players return from injury.

"There isn't a perfect answer to that," Atkins said when asked if the club will be buyers or sellers at the deadline, according to Arash Madani of Sportsnet. "Five days ago we were a win off of last year's record at the time. We need to go on a run. The division fortunately hasn't gotten away from us, and we're very much in it, but we need to go on a run at some point soon.

"There is no concrete timeline on when we have to make a decision by, because it all depends on the division and how we're playing. It's a sliding scale. At some point we'll know on subjective, objective and projected health on what's best for the organization. We've absolutely remained focused on adding and winning."

The Blue Jays enter play Wednesday 7 1/2 games back of the New York Yankees in the division despite Aaron Sanchez, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and J.A. Happ missing significant time. Both Donaldson and Tulowitzki are expected to return this weekend which should go a long way in helping Atkins evaluate his club.

Should the Blue Jays opt to be sellers, though, Atkins will have plenty of veteran pieces he could look to deal. Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano, Jason Grilli, Darwin Barney, and J.P. Howell are all free agents at the end of the season, while Jose Bautista has a mutual option. Donaldson, Happ, and Aaron Loup are free agents at the end of next season.

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 Posted: Thu May 25th, 2017 02:46 am
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The woeful San Diego Padres appear ready to lend a hand to a lucky contender.

Owners of baseball's worst record, the Padres have reportedly told other teams they're already "open for business" some two-plus months away from the July 31 trade deadline, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Their primary trade chip at this time, per Olney, is left-handed relief ace Brad Hand.

It's unknown if the Padres have had discussions with any teams, or who, if anybody, might be interested in acquiring Hand for the stretch drive.

Since arriving in San Diego one year ago, Hand has morphed into one of the best southpaw relievers in the business. The 27-year-old was one of the few bright spots for the Padres in 2016, when he struck out 111 batters (11.2 per nine innings) to just 36 walks, while posting a 2.92 ERA over an MLB-high 82 appearances.

Hand's been even better in the early stages of 2017, posting a 1.80 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and averaging 11.9 strikeouts per nine in 21 appearances. All of those marks are tops among Padres relievers, while his ERA is lower than every one of the team's starters.

His name previously surfaced in trade rumors prior to spring training, and the Padres would likely be able to get a nice return for his services from a contender, given that left-handed relievers are a premium commodity of late. He'll also come at a cheap cost: Hand's making just $1.375-million this season, and has another two years of arbitration remaining before free agency.

The rebuilding Padres, who opened the season with three Rule 5 draft picks on their roster, have the third-lowest payroll in baseball at $25,908,542, according to Spotrac.

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 Posted: Fri May 26th, 2017 02:11 am
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lobo316



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Chris Sale was less than a handful of punchouts away from standing alone in the record books.

The Boston Red Sox starter entered Wednesday's game against the Texas Rangers looking for his ninth consecutive start with 10 or more strikeouts. After throwing 97 pitches in the contest, however, he was pulled after 7 1/3 innings with only six strikeouts on the night - four shy of breaking his eight-game tie with Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez.

Though Sale didn't break the record, his final line was still nothing to scoff at. The southpaw allowed three earned runs on six hits and walked only one batter to go along with six strikeouts.

It was the second time he had a 10-plus-strikeout streak end at eight games. The 28-year-old equaled the feat with the Chicago White Sox in 2015, when he fanned 10 or more batters in every start between May 23 and June 30.

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 Posted: Fri May 26th, 2017 02:11 am
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Back-to-back-to-back JACKS! pic.twitter.com/sPPCNntPTi

— Pirates (@Pirates) May 25, 2017
The Pittsburgh Pirates batted around reliever Josh Collmenter so badly they essentially walked off the Atlanta Braves in the top of the 10th inning.

After rallying to tie it at 5-5 in the ninth and holding on to force extras, the Pirates' bats exploded in the 10th, as David Freese, Jose Osuna, and Jordy Mercer connected on consecutive home runs off Collmenter as part of a wild seven-run inning.

Though he picked up the excruciating loss, Collmenter can at least take solace in that his outing made him the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer John Smoltz to allow seven or more runs in one inning or less, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

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 Posted: Fri May 26th, 2017 02:12 am
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Eight months have passed since Jose Fernandez accidentally plowed his boat into a jetty off South Beach, killing himself and two friends, but his former teammate Marcell Ozuna can't stop thinking about the moments and decisions leading up to the tragedy that ravaged Miami - and baseball - last autumn.

Had he accepted the ebullient Cuban's invitation to come out on the boat, after all, Ozuna likely would be gone, too. And had Fernandez listened to Ozuna, who implored the 24-year-old right-hander not to take his boat out that night, the Miami Marlins would still have their ace while Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, would still be coming home every night.

"Sometimes you think, 'If only he had listened a bit, he would still be here with us,'" Ozuna told USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz in Spanish. "He was my best friend, or rather, he still is, because I always keep him in mind. As a friend, I told him not to go. He was obsessed with going. It happened because it had to happen. You don't control those things. Only God knows why things happen."

The loss of Fernandez - who was drunk behind the wheel and had cocaine in his system when his boat, traveling at top speed, crashed into the jetty Sept. 25 - has loomed over a thus-far disastrous season for the Marlins. At 16-29, Miami sits in fourth place in the National League East while receiving an MLB-worst 0.4 WAR from its pitching staff.

"We all see it," said Michael Hill, the club's president of baseball operations. "We wear 16 on our left chest every day, so it's a constant reminder that he's no longer with us. And then when you look at the struggles of our starting pitching, it's a reminder that he's not there, he's not coming back, and we have to find a way to do it without him."

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 Posted: Fri May 26th, 2017 02:13 am
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Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais couldn't hold it in Wednesday after watching his club drop a fifth straight game, demanding greater intensity from his players following a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals that left Seattle 11 games back of first in the American League West.

"We've got to pick up our intensity," Servais told reporters, including Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. "We are better than this. I've about had enough of this. We need to dial it up a little bit."

Despite starting the campaign 8-13, the Mariners sat at 17-17 just two weeks ago after an 11-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 10, but things have gone south in a hurry. With four-fifths of their Opening Day rotation, as well as right fielder Mitch Haniger, on the disabled list, the Mariners have dropped 10 of their last 13 contests, plummeting to fifth place in the division in the process.

“We know we are banged up, nobody cares,” Servais said. “Nobody feels sorry for you in this league. You have to go out and fight and claw and scratch and figure out a way. It’s just not happening right now. There’s only way to get out of this hole, you have to dig yourself out of it because nobody cares. Players are frustrated, we are frustrated, we are better than this."

Limited to just one run per game in each of their last five contests, the Mariners sit dead last in the majors in offense over the past two weeks, having managed a measly .584 OPS and .109 isolated power.

"It's definitely been frustrating and the last little bit has been very frustrating," Servais said. "We don't like to lose and we certainly don’t like to lose in the fashion we’ve been losing. It's nothing crazy. We just have to play better."

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 Posted: Fri May 26th, 2017 02:14 am
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The Toronto Blue Jays are on the verge of receiving an enormous boost to the lineup with a pair of All-Stars set to return to the left side of the infield Friday.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said he expects both Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki will return from the disabled list and be in the lineup when the club opens a three-game set with the Texas Rangers.

"The plan is for those guys to play tomorrow," Atkins told "The Jeff Blair Show" on Thursday. "That will be a great addition to our team."

It couldn't happen at a better time for the Blue Jays, who come back to Rogers Centre riding a three-game winning streak, still 7 1/2 games back of the division-leading New York Yankees.

Donaldson has been out since April 13 with a calf injury, while Tulowitzki hasn't played since April 21 due to a hamstring strain.

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 Posted: Fri May 26th, 2017 02:15 am
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Much has been made of Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria pursuing a buyer for his major league franchise. For a time, it seemed like a group involving Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush was on the verge of acquiring the team. Jeter said no progress has been made, and that was 10 days ago.

Last week, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said opposing bidders were close to one another, though it now appears that Loria's $1.3 billion asking price remains an obstacle. Sources have told the New York Post's Josh Kosman and Ken Davidoff that Loria will have to adjust his expectations accordingly.

"I don’t think anybody will get to $1.3 billion," a sports investment banker said. "Jeb and Derek are still out there and they are not close to getting the money.

"Now, it’s a stale deal."

As of now, one anonymous baseball owner told the Post that no deal is close. The source added that he thinks the price goes down, which could prompt a quicker resolution.

"I think if Jeffrey dropped it to $1 billion there would be buyers," another source said.

There have been no signs yet that Loria intends to lower his asking price, and neither Loria, the Marlins, nor Major League Baseball have commented.

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 Posted: Fri May 26th, 2017 02:15 am
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Boston's $217-million arm is back.

After missing all of April and most of May rehabbing from an elbow strain, left-hander David Price is scheduled to make his highly anticipated season debut Monday against the Chicago White Sox, the Red Sox announced.

The 31-year-old completed his second rehab start Wednesday, though he did need 89 pitches to get through 3 2/3 innings. His velocity was consistent, however, topping out at 96 mph.

"(It was) a lot of pitches in a short amount of time. I think that is more of a test to being healthy as opposed to going out there and throwing five or six innings for 90 pitches," Price told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. "To do what I did in both of my rehab outings, I don’t think you can do that if you’re not healthy."

Manager John Farrell, speaking after the team's 9-4 win against the Texas Rangers, is looking forward to having the former American League Cy Young Award winner back in the rotation.

"Physically, he feels great, and his return will give us a definite boost," Farrell said, per Britton. "Hopefully it allows us to even out some of the performances within the rotation."

Price's return will provide some much-needed relief to a thin starting rotation. On top of being without the left-hander, the Red Sox lost knuckleballer Steven Wright for the season with a knee injury and have been forced to rely on Kyle Kendrick, Brian Johnson, and Hector Velazquez.

In his first season with the Red Sox last year, Price combined to a 17-9 record in a career-high 35 starts and a league-leading 230 innings pitched. He would finish with 228 strikeouts, a 3.99 ERA, and 1.20 WHIP.

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 Posted: Sat May 27th, 2017 01:03 am
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With the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers set to square off Friday for the first time since last year's electric American League Division Series, one manager says there isn't any lasting animosity between the teams.

"I didn't know there was anything ongoing," Rangers skipper Jeff Banister said, according to Evan Grant of Sports Day. "I think that is more for spectators. Our guys aren't thinking about anything like that."

The rivalry began after Jose Bautista's epic bat flip and series-clinching home run in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS. Not long after, in May of 2016, Rougned Odor's punch heard 'round the world further ignited the feud following a hard slide from Bautista at second base.

As fate would have it, both teams met in last year's ALDS, with the Blue Jays prevailing once again - this time with a three-game sweep.

The series, which begins in Toronto, will be important for both sides. The Blue Jays are expected to get two huge reinforcements back in the form of Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, while the Rangers will look to build off a terrific start to May that has them in second place in the AL West.

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 Posted: Sat May 27th, 2017 01:16 am
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On Wednesday, Chris Sale missed his chance to set a record of nine consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts. So, the very next day, the Boston Red Sox decided to set their own strikeout record, in dubious fashion.

Mike Napoli became the 20th member of the Texas Rangers to strike out Thursday when closer Craig Kimbrel fanned the first baseman to close out the ninth inning and cement a 6-2 win. With it, the Red Sox tied the MLB record for the most strikeouts thrown by a single team in a nine-inning game, according to The Providence Journal's Tim Britton.

But the feat didn't come without some controversy.

In the first at-bat of the ninth inning, Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara swung through Kimbrel's off-speed pitch while it simultaneously hit him in the leg. Under MLB rules, Mazara should have immediately been ruled out, except the umpires deemed it a dropped third strike, allowing Mazara to reach first base.

Kimbrel K's Mazara with a pitch that hits him in the leg..umps miss it and Mazara gets 1st pic.twitter.com/wHxp7oMoDh

— Boston Sports Info (@bostonsportsinf) May 26, 2017
By definition, Mazara became the 17th batter to strike out in the game before being followed up by Jonathan Lucroy, Rougned Odor, and Napoli, who were all struck out by Kimbrel.

The Red Sox, obviously preferring to finish out games quickly rather than chase records, challenged the call on the field. Though the play was reviewable, miscommunication between the umpires and the Replay Official led to it being ruled otherwise.

"The Replay Official and Replay Supervisor misinterpreted the call on the field and incorrectly deemed the play to be non-reviewable The call on the field - of no hit by pitch on a swinging strike three - is a reviewable play under the Replay Regulations," the league said in a statement postgame.

According to Britton, it's the sixth time in major-league history a team has struck out 20 batters in a nine-inning game. The Washington Nationals were the last to accomplish the feat when Max Scherzer did it all by himself, going the distance against the Detroit Tigers on May 11, 2016.

Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz had the bulk of the punch outs on the evening with 11. Reliever Heath Hembree contributed with two, Robby Scott recorded one, and Matt Barnes added two before Kimbrel's four-strikeout ninth inning.

"A lot of powerful stuff from each guy that came in," Red Sox manager John Farrell told MLB.com.

"That's a good hitting team, and they can be explosive. But, again, Drew tonight with 11 in six innings. Kimbrel, he's been on such a run. Matt Barnes looks like he's really getting back on track."

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