Daily Dose: Sizemore gets some good news

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Grady Sizemore received good news Monday, as an MRI exam on his injured
left elbow showed that most of the inflammation has subsided. Without
that progress surgery would have been an option for Sizemore, but
manager Eric Wedge noted Monday that the “best-case scenario” would now
have him back off the disabled in 7-10 days.

Before that happens Sizemore will need to avoid a setback while
swinging a bat and throwing Tuesday, so he’s not totally out of the
woods. “There’s a chance it could get worse, there’s a chance it could
stay the same,” Sizemore said, adding that “it definitely could linger
all year” even if he can return next week. His ability to play through
pain will be put to the test and he struggled before the DL stint.

While the Indians celebrate their Sizemore news by blowing a
five-run lead in the seventh inning, here are some other notes from
around baseball …

* Lou Piniella stuck to his guns Monday, explaining that Alfonso
Soriano will stay atop the Cubs’ lineup despite going 14-for-95 (.147)
over the past 22 games and sporting a ghastly .296 on-base percentage
on the season. “We’ve been through this many times,” Piniella said.
“When we signed Alfonso, he was a leadoff hitter. We’ve won two
divisions with him being a leadoff hitter. What else can I say?”

In other words forget about his good power, sub par on-base skills,
and declining speed and just focus on the fact that he’s been in the
wrong role for a long time now. When he was swiping 30-40 bases per
season hitting Soriano leadoff made sense from a conventional wisdom
standpoint, but he has six steals in 58 games this year and has a so-so
.331 OBP while slugging .529 since joining the Cubs.

* Jason Isringhausen walked off the mound with his right arm
dangling at his side Sunday, so it came as no shock when the Rays put
him on the 60-day disabled list and announced Monday that he’ll miss
the remainder of the season following Tommy John surgery. He allowed
two runs while posting a 6/5 K/BB ratio in eight innings between DL
stints and the 36-year-old may call it quits with 293 saves.

AL Quick Hits: Ervin Santana has been scratched from his Tuesday
start due to forearm tightness and is awaiting the results of an MRI
exam … No decision has been made yet about his joining Boston’s
rotation, but John Smoltz said Monday that he’d like to pitch beyond
this season … Jason Bartlett (ankle) came off the disabled list Monday,
with Reid Brignac heading back to Triple-A … Glen Perkins (elbow) will
rejoin the rotation Tuesday and Michael Cuddyer (finger) is hoping to
be back in the lineup after receiving a cortisone shot … Orlando
Cabrera has been removed from the A’s leadoff spot after posting a .280
on-base percentage through 62 games … Kelvim Escobar is expected to
replace Scot Shields (knee) in the bullpen next week, but for now has
been placed back on the DL … Jake Westbrook has been scratched from his
next scheduled minor-league rehab start because of soreness in his
surgically repaired elbow.

NL Quick Hits: Brad Lidge (knee) threw long toss Sunday and is
hoping to return from the disabled list when eligible next Tuesday …
Former pitching coach Rick Peterson said Monday that he’s heard rumors
of Johan Santana being bothered by his surgically repaired knee … Pedro
Martinez reportedly has been working out six days per week in the hopes
of joining a contending team after the All-Star break … Kyle Lohse
(forearm) played catch from 90 feet Sunday and reported zero problems,
but remains likely to be out until the second half … Manny Acta
reportedly will remain manager for at least a few more days while the
Nationals’ brain trust weigh their options … Meanwhile, the Nationals
increased their odds for next year’s No. 1 pick by signing Horacio
Ramirez to a minor-league contract Monday … Gary Sheffield will keep
playing through knee soreness after the Mets said Monday that he
doesn’t need an MRI exam.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.