El Duque to attempt comeback with Rangers

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The Rangers, who have already gambled on Jason Jennings and Kris Benson with mixed results this year, announced the signing of Orlando Hernandez to a minor league contract on Thursday.

There hadn’t been much talk about Hernandez lately, but little brother
Livan said in February that El Duque intended to make a comeback as a
reliever during the season. Hernandez wasn’t ready to pitch at the
beginning of the season following surgery to remove a bunion on his
right toe. The foot problems prevented him from pitching for the Mets
last season as he finished up a two-year, $12 million contract. In
2007, he went 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 24 starts and three relief
appearances.

El Duque is listed as being 39 years old, but the assumption is that
he’s 43. It’s doubtful that he’d have any chance of holding up as a
starter for the Rangers, but we wouldn’t bet against him proving quite
useful out of the pen. He’s always been able to strike hitters out with
his vast array of pitches and arm angles. He might even be a legitimate
right-handed setup man for a team currently relying on Darren O’Day in
that role.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.