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.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.