– After homering in four of the Padres’ six games on the road last
week, Adrian Gonzalez returns home to Petco to take on Joe Blanton and
the Phillies. Gonzalez is hitting a relatively modest .259 with five
homers in 85 at-bats in San Diego this year. He’s at .313 with 15
homers in 96 at-bats on the road.
– Hiroki Kuroda wasn’t any good in his rehab start last week, giving
up seven runs — five earned — and nine hits over five innings for
Single-A Inland Empire, but the Dodgers have still chosen to bring him
back to face the Diamondbacks tonight. He was 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in
four starts against Arizona as a rookie last year. The Dodgers will
have the advantage of facing Billy Buckner, who allowed five runs in a
loss to the Padres last time out. Buckner pitched in relief against the
Dodgers on April 11 and allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning.
He was demoted to the minors soon afterwards, only to be brought back
as a starter on May 22.
– With trade speculation ramping up, Roy Oswalt will take on the
Rockies tonight. He’s 6-1 with a 1.84 lifetime against Colorado, but
the Roy Oswalt who put up those numbers hasn’t shown up very frequently
this season. Coming off three straight no-decisions, Oswalt enters his
12th start of the season with a 1-2 record and a 4.62 ERA. Fellow
Opening Day starter Aaron Cook will pitch for Colorado.
– Derek Jeter enters Monday’s game against the Indians with a chance
of reaching two milestones: he’s two runs scored away from 1,500 and
two hits away from 2,600.
Game of the Night
Cincinnati vs. St. Louis – There are currently 38 starters with at
least five wins this season, but only one is pitching tonight. That’s
the Cardinals’ Todd Wellemeyer, who has a 5.02 ERA to go along with his
5-4 record. He has, though, allowed two runs in 11 1/3 innings over his
last two starts, both of which resulted in victories. The Reds will go
to Edinson Volquez, who is fresh off the DL after missing two starts
with back spasms. Volquez, who gave up seven runs in a start against
the Cardinals on May 10, is 4-2 with a 4.25 ERA this season.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: