Daily Dose: Last-place Indians lose MVP

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After struggling through elbow pain for most of the month, Grady
Sizemore finally landed on the disabled list Sunday. Sizemore followed
up a strong April by going 24-for-114 (.211) in May and was limited to
designated hitter duties last week as the Indians tried to keep him in
the lineup despite problems throwing. Cleveland is set to get Travis
Hafner back at some point this week, so he’ll take over at DH.

Ben Francisco had been subbing for Sizemore in center field with
Mark DeRosa playing a lot of left field, but it was Trevor Crowe
playing center field Sunday with Francisco sliding over to left field.
However, once Hafner returns to soak up the DH at-bats it seems likely
that DeRosa will get most of the starts in left field with a
quasi-platoon of Crowe versus righties and Francisco versus lefties in
center.

While the preseason AL Central favorites end May in last place and
without their best player, here are some other notes from around
baseball …

* Edwin Jackson earned a spot on my preseason “busts” list because his
14 wins and 4.42 ERA didn’t match his sub par 108/77 K/BB ratio over
183.1 innings last year. However, instead of taking a step backward
he’s taken his game to a whole new level. A change of scenery and new
pitching coach Rick Knapp have worked wonders on Jackson, who shut out
the Orioles for eight innings Sunday.

Not only has Jackson sliced his walk rate by 37 percent, his
strikeout rate is also up 43 percent. He hasn’t pitched as well as the
2.30 ERA suggests, but Jackson has a 57/18 K/BB ratio in 74 innings and
has walked more than two batters twice in 11 starts after doing so in
13 of 31 starts last season. His mid-90s fastball has always been
intriguing and now Jackson is finally learning how to actually pitch.

* It turns out that Matt Wieters is actually human. Called up
Friday, baseball’s top prospect started all three weekend games for the
Orioles and went 2-for-11 with zero walks and three strikeouts. The
good news is that both of his hits went for extra bases and after
catching back-to-back games he was used at designated hitter Sunday, so
the Orioles will get Wieters as many at-bats as possible.

* Matt Gamel has gone just 6-for-28 (.214) while starting only half
of Milwaukee’s games since being called up from Triple-A two weeks ago,
but general manager Doug Melvin said Sunday that he’ll stick with the
team through at least the end of interleague play on June 25. Rickie
Weeks’ season-ending wrist injury has given Gamel more starts of late
and he may be in the majors for good by then.

* Carl Pavano has been one of the rare bright spots for the Indians
and turned in another solid outing Sunday, holding his ex-Yankees
teammates to three runs in 7.1 innings. Pavano got stuck with a
no-decision despite leaving up 4-2 and his ERA remains ugly at 5.29,
but since allowing nine runs in his Cleveland debut he has a 4.07 ERA
and 49/10 K/BB ratio in 62 innings spread over 10 starts.

AL Quick Hits: Kevin Youkilis homered twice Sunday and leads the
league with a 1.150 OPS … Zack Greinke allowed more than two runs
Sunday for the first time this year, taking a no-decision for seven
innings of four-run ball … Ervin Santana struggled again Sunday and has
now allowed 19 runs in 18 innings since coming off the disabled list …
Ichiro Suzuki went 4-for-5 with a homer Sunday to finish with a .377
batting average for May … Andrew Bailey blew what would’ve been a
five-out save Sunday, but ended up with a win instead … Mark Teixeira
homered and drove in four runs Sunday, finishing May at .330-13-34 …
Jon Lester broke out of his slump by racking up a dozen strikeouts in
six innings Sunday … Adam Kennedy went deep twice Sunday, and is
batting .390 with four homers and five steals in 21 games since signing
with Oakland … Josh Hamilton (groin) pinch-hit Sunday, but is still
scheduled to undergo an MRI exam.

NL Quick Hits: Adrian Gonzalez became the first big leaguer to
20 homers when he smacked a three-run blast Sunday … Brad Lidge appears
to be back on track after saving games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
… Ian Stewart went hitless Sunday, finishing May just 9-for-64 (.141) …
John Maine left Sunday’s start after six scoreless innings with the
same stomach virus that kept Carlos Beltran out of the lineup … Edwin
Encarnacion (wrist) is reportedly several weeks from coming off the
disabled list, but Edinson Volquez (back) is expected to be activated
for Monday’s start against St. Louis … Jamie Moyer came into Sunday
with a 7.42 ERA, but held the Nationals to one run over six innings …
Casey Kotchman left Sunday’s game after being hit on the shin by a
pitch … Chad Gaudin struck out nine and walked none over 6.1 innings of
two-run ball Sunday at Coors Field.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.