Daily Dose: Texas loses Hamilton, McCarthy

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Josh Hamilton’s stay on the disabled list was extended Monday, as the
Rangers announced that he’ll miss another 4-6 weeks after undergoing
surgery to repair a partially torn abdominal muscle. Hamilton had been
hoping to avoid going under the knife, but decided otherwise when the
pain persisted following his trip to the DL last week and a second
opinion confirmed the need for surgery.

Hamilton being out has Texas going with David Murphy in left field,
Marlon Byrd in center field, and Nelson Cruz in right field, as manager
Ron Washington opted for that alignment in seven of the past eight
games. That outfield leaves Andruw Jones and Hank Blalock in a fairly
strict platoon at designated hitter, with Blalock getting the starts
against right-handed pitching.

While the Rangers try to hold onto first place in the AL West sans Hamilton, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Along with losing Hamilton, the Rangers also discovered Monday
that Brandon McCarthy will be sidelined indefinitely with a stress
fracture in his shoulder. He’ll be completely shut down for several
weeks and a similar injury in 2007 kept him out for over a month.
McCarthy went 5-2 with a 4.92 ERA and 44/26 K/BB ratio in 11 starts,
but this marks his fourth trip to the disabled list in three seasons.

Doug Mathis was called up from Triple-A to step in for McCarthy on
Tuesday, but he lacks fantasy upside and ultimately the rotation spot
will probably be filled by Derek Holland once Matt Harrison returns
from the DL later this week. Holland is just 1-3 with a 6.54 ERA in
31.2 innings, but the 22-year-old southpaw has plenty of potential
after posting a 2.68 ERA and 245/64 K/BB ratio in the minors.

* Jeremy Bonderman came off the disabled list and Jose Contreras was
recalled from the minors Monday, and they faced off with dramatically
different results as the Game 2 matchup of a doubleheader in Chicago.
Contreras had gone 0-5 with an 8.19 ERA prior to being demoted to
Triple-A last month, but shut out Detroit for eight innings while
allowing just one hit and one walk.

Meanwhile, Bonderman struggled mightily in his 2009 debut as Chicago
knocked him around for six runs in four innings, including three
homers. He struck out just one batter and reports of decreased velocity
while rehabbing proved accurate as Bonderman initially threw 88-91
miles per hour before dropping to 87-89 late. For comparison, his
average fastball was 92.7 mph from 2003-2008.

AL Quick Hits: After undergoing an eye exam Monday, David Ortiz
was informed that he has 20-20 vision and given drops for dryness …
Adam Lind homered twice Monday and is now 14-for-29 (.483) with three
homers and five doubles in seven games this month … Detroit sent Ryan
Perry back to the minors Monday after the 2008 first-round pick walked
19 batters in 23 innings … Evan Longoria (hamstring) returned to the
lineup Monday after missing nearly a week’s worth of starts … J.D. Drew
(shoulder) is hoping to rejoin the lineup Tuesday after getting a
cortisone shot … Aaron Cunningham left Monday’s game after being hit on
the helmet by a pitch, although he stayed in long enough to score from
first base on a double … Jacoby Ellsbury is day-to-day with a sprained
shoulder after an MRI exam revealed no structural damage … Joe Crede
was scratched from Monday’s lineup with lingering calf soreness.

NL Quick Hits: Justin Upton sat out Monday’s game after injuring
his shoulder on a swing Sunday night … Sean West shut out the Giants
for eight innings Monday to pick up his first MLB victory … Khalil
Greene is slated to begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A
this week as he attempts to come back from social anxiety disorder …
Starting on short rest following his 300th win, Randy Johnson took his
165th loss by allowing three runs in five innings Monday … Clint Barmes
collected two hits Monday for his sixth straight multi-hit effort …
Jose Valverde (calf) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday
at Double-A … After blowing a save Sunday, Chad Qualls said that his
forearm tightness will probably linger … Out since May 24 with a
hamstring injury, Chris Iannetta is expected to come off the shelf
Tuesday … Jason Marquis improbably became the NL’s first eight-game
winner by allowing two runs in 6.2 innings Monday.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.