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.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.