Daily Dose: Johnson wins No. 300

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Randy Johnson became the 24th member of the 300-win club Thursday,
tossing six innings of one-run ball against Washington. It wasn’t
exactly vintage Big Unit, as Johnson managed only two strikeouts and
threw just 78 pitches one day after his start was delayed by rain, but
with just two hits and two walks he was plenty effective and the lone
run was unearned.

At 45 he’s the second-oldest pitcher to reach 300 wins, behind only
46-year-old Phil Niekro, and Johnson joins Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton,
Eddie Plank, Lefty Grove, and Tom Glavine as the 300-win southpaws. And
while it might not have registered with most people thanks to the name
change from Expos to Nationals, Johnson won No. 300 against the
franchise that he debuted with back in 1988.

While media members with zero sense of history misguidedly proclaim
Johnson the last 300-game winner, here are some other notes from around
baseball …

* Dontrelle Willis fared reasonably well in his first four starts
and cruised through the first two innings Thursday, but unraveled in
the third inning by hitting a batter and walking four, including the
last two with the bases loaded. His five runs tied for the most allowed
without giving up a hit during the last 55 years, joining Mark Fidrych,
Sandy Koufax, Mitch Williams, Pat Combs, and Mark Hutton.

* Andrew McCutchen had a nice MLB debut Thursday, going 2-for-4 with
a walk, a stolen base, and three runs while leading off and taking over
for Nate McLouth in center field. Gordon Beckham’s debut didn’t go
quite so well, as he was hitless in three at-bats. Beckham batted
eighth, played third base, and as Ozzie Guillen put it “had a bad day
just like everyone else” as the White Sox were shut out.

* Chien-Ming Wang’s return to the rotation was a mixed bag Thursday
afternoon, as five runs in 4.2 innings isn’t as bad as it looks against
a strong Texas lineup in a good ballpark for hitting. It certainly
wasn’t an impressive start, but he showed good velocity while inducing
eight ground-ball outs and struck out five versus just one walk.
Unfortunately for Wang, he has no time to settle in with Boston next.

* Cole Hamels’ year began with injuries and ineffectiveness, but
that now seems like a distant memory following his complete-game
shutout Thursday against the Dodgers. He needed just 97 pitches to
record 27 outs, striking out five, walking zero, and allowing five
hits. And since giving up a dozen runs through two starts, Hamels is
4-0 with a 2.84 ERA and 44/8 K/BB ratio in 44.1 innings.

* Miguel Cabrera left Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury, but
not before the Tigers oddly allowed him limp home from second base on a
Brandon Inge double after being looked at by trainers prior to the
at-bat. Cabrera somehow avoided an immediate removal despite being in
obvious pain and then could barely walk/jog the 180 feet to the plate,
at which point he was pulled in favor of Jeff Larish.

AL Quick Hits: Adam Lind went 5-for-5 with three doubles
Thursday and now has hits in a team-record eight straight at-bats …
David Ortiz said Thursday that he’s considering getting his eyes
“checked out” … James Shields threw eight innings of two-run ball
Thursday and J.P. Howell closed out his win … Scott Baker struck out 10
while dropping his ERA below 6.00 for the first time Thursday … Fausto
Carmona kept struggling Thursday, coughing up seven runs as his ERA
climbed to 7.42 … Mike Aviles’ rehab has been shut down for two weeks
as he attempts to come back from a forearm strain … John Lackey allowed
two runs over seven innings Thursday, but the bullpen cost him a win …
Jason Kubel smacked a pair of three-run homers Thursday … Brett
Anderson tossed seven scoreless innings Thursday after posting a 6.38
ERA in May … Travis Hafner (shoulder) is due off the disabled list
Friday, but is unlikely to get everyday playing time initially.

NL Quick Hits: Garrett Atkins hadn’t homered since April 27, but
went deep twice Thursday … Chris Carpenter needed just 95 pitches for a
complete-game victory Thursday, allowing one run on three hits … Anibal
Sanchez is reportedly headed right back to the disabled list after
aggravating his shoulder injury … Brett Myers underwent hip surgery
Thursday and will likely miss the rest of the year … Kyle Lohse looks
destined for another DL stint after tweaking his forearm injury … J.J.
Putz will have his sore elbow examined Friday and might need surgery …
Wandy Rodriguez was knocked around again Thursday and has now allowed
18 runs in his last three starts … Mike Pelfrey’s streak of five
straight Quality Starts ended with nine runs Thursday … Josh Johnson
tossed 7.2 innings of two-run ball and hit a three-run homer Thursday …
Shane Victorino missed Thursday with a sore hip … Andy LaRoche left
Thursday’s game after being plunked on the knee.

Michael Brantley’s timetable off shoulder surgery is “hazy”

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Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an in-depth look at how the Indians will manage their outfield during the early part of the 2016 season, in the absence of star Michael Brantley.

Brantley underwent labrum surgery on his right shoulder this past November and has not picked up a bat all winter. “In the off-season people know I love to hit,” Brantley acknowledged to Hoynes late last week. ”I hit a lot. It’s just been a change in my timetable.”

Hoynes says the projected date for Brantley’s 2016 debut is “hazy,” guessing that it might happen around late April or early May if everything continues to go smoothly. Shoulders can be tricky, for hitters and pitchers.

Rajai Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall figure to make up Cleveland’s primary starting outfield while Brantley is finishing his rehabilitation. Collin Cowgill and Joey Butler could also be in the mix. It’s a lacking group, tasked with replacing one of the most productive players in baseball.

Brantley, 28, has slashed .319/.382/.494 over the last two seasons, tallying 35 home runs, 90 doubles, 181 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 293 games.

Could the talented Tribe be in for another slow start?

Shouldn’t this club be spending more money?

Jose Bautista had a courtside view of Saturday night’s epic NBA Slam Dunk Contest

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Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic put on a tremendous show in Saturday night’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest up in Toronto, Canada. The stars were out to see it at the Air Canada Centre, and Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista had one of the very best views in the house. Check out this video he posted to Instagram of LaVine’s final dunk, a between-the-legs jam from just inside the free throw line …

Its a wrap!!! #BackToBack #SlamDunk #Champion @zachlavine8 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽

A video posted by Jose Bautista (@joeybats19) on

That is Toronto’s very own Drake going wild in the pink jacket. Gordon probably had the best individual dunk of the night, though, if we’re being really real …

Back to your regularly scheduled baseball programming. Pitchers and catchers report Friday.

Cubs expected to host an All-Star Game in the near future

A general view of Wrigley Field and the newly renovated bleachers during the second inning of a baseball game between the the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds Thursday, June 11, 2015,  in Chicago. Chicago won 6-3. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
AP Photo/Paul Beaty
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The 2016-18 All-Star Games are spoken for, but the Cubs could play host not long thereafter according to commissioner Rob Manfred, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports.

The Padres are hosting at Petco Park this year, the Marlins will host at Marlins Park next season, and the Nationals will host in 2018 at Nationals Park. That will make four consecutive National League hosts and five if the Cubs get it in 2019. In the past, the National and American Leagues have alternated hosting privileges. That is sort of important now since the league that wins the All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series.

The Cubs last hosted the All-Star Game in 1990 and have hosted a total of three times (1962 and 1947 being the other years) since its inception in 1933.

Wrigley Field has been undergoing renovations which are expected to be completed by the 2019 season. Manfred said that the Cubs hosting the All-Star Game “will provide the Cubs and Ricketts family a chance to showcase the unbelievable renovation they are in the midst of doing for Wrigley field.”

Update: Here’s a table showing the last time each team hosted the All-Star Game.

Team Park Last Hosted Yrs Since Notes
Dodgers Dodger Stadum 1980 35
Nationals Olympic Stadium (Expos) 1982 33 2018 host
Athletics Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 1987 28
Cubs Wrigley Field 1990 25
Blue Jays SkyDome 1991 24
Padres Jack Murphy Stadium 1992 23 2016 host
Orioles Oriole Park at Camden Yards 1993 22
Rangers The Ballpark in Arlington 1995 20
Phillies Veterans Stadium 1996 19
Indians Jacobs Field 1997 18
Rockies Coors Field 1998 17
Red Sox Fenway Park 1999 16
Braves Turner Field 2000 15
Mariners Safeco Field 2001 14
Brewers Miller Park 2002 13
White Sox U.S. Cellular Field 2003 12
Astros Minute Maid Park 2004 11
Tigers Comerica Park 2005 10
Pirates PNC Park 2006 9
Giants AT&T Park 2007 8
Yankees Yankee Stadium 2008 7
Cardinals Busch Stadium 2009 6
Angels Angels Stadium of Anaheim 2010 5
D’Backs Chase Field 2011 4
Royals Kauffman Stadium 2012 3
Mets Citi Field 2013 2
Twins Target Field 2014 1
Reds Great American Ball Park 2015 0
Marlins Never Hosted 2017 host
Rays Never Hosted

Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren will compete for No. 5 spot in Cubs’ rotation

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks throws during the first inning of Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series against the New York Mets Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Expect Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation this spring, writes Gordon Wittenmyer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Clayton Richard could serve as a fallback option as well.

Hendricks, 26, pitched well in his first full season in 2015. He finished with a 3.95 ERA and a 167/43 K/BB ratio over 180 innings. That was a solid follow-up to his rookie campaign in 2014, when he posted a 2.46 ERA over 13 starts.

The Cubs acquired Warren, 28, from the Yankees in the Starlin Castro trade. He contributed both out of the rotation and the bullpen in the Bronx this past season, pitching 131 1/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a 104/39 K/BB ratio.

One through four, the Cubs’ rotation is solid with defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel.