Daily Dose: Rangers sticking with Davis

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General manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday that the Rangers will stick
with Chris Davis and Derek Holland despite their respective struggles.
Davis is batting just .204 with an MLB-high 94 strikeouts in 206
at-bats, putting him on pace to break Mark Reynolds’ single-season
record of 204 with plenty of room to spare, but will get a chance to
right the ship because Daniels doesn’t want to “bail on him.”

Davis was never a good bet to hit .285 again, but striking out in 46
percent of his at-bats is absurd even for his standards and he almost
can’t help but make more contact going forward. If the Rangers truly
stick with him, Davis should be able to hit .250 or so with 15-20
homers over the final 100 games. He’s batting .375 with 12 homers and
nine doubles in 112 at-bats when he actually makes contact.

Daniels’ decision to stay with Holland is perhaps more surprising,
because unlike Davis he’s yet to experience any success in the majors.
Holland has a 6.63 ERA over 36.2 innings split between the rotation and
bullpen, but Daniels said that the plan is to “let Derek pitch every
fifth day and give him a chance to improve.” He’s a strong long-term
prospect, but may not be quite ready to thrive at 22 years old.

While the Rangers utilize their spot atop the AL West to show patience, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* John Smoltz’s final rehab start will come Wednesday at Triple-A
and he’s set to join the Red Sox’s rotation next Thursday versus the
Nationals. There have been tons of rumors about Boston shopping Brad
Penny to make room for Smoltz, but the Red Sox announced Tuesday that
they’ll put off the difficult decision by going with a six-man rotation for now.

* David Ortiz went deep again Tuesday and narrowly missed a second
homer as he drove in a season-high three runs. Ortiz hit .185 while
homering once through the May, but has gone deep four times in 36
at-bats this month while bringing his OPS up from .570 to .663. His
season totals are still going to be ugly, but Ortiz is definitely
showing some serious signs of life again.

* For now at least Dontrelle Willis remains in the Tigers’ rotation
despite his 6.60 ERA, but manager Jim Leyland announced Tuesday that
his next scheduled start will be skipped. Willis has allowed 28 runs on
37 hits and 28 walks in 34 innings, including handing out eight free
passes in his last outing, and Zach Miner will get the call against the
Brewers this weekend.

* Ervin Santana was scratched from his Tuesday start with a sore
forearm, but is hoping to avoid the disabled list after an MRI exam
cleared him of any structural damage. Sean O’Sullivan pitched very well
in Santana’s place versus the Giants and will likely stick in the
rotation for however long he’s sidelined. Meanwhile, the plan to
replace Scot Shields with Kelvim Escobar has been put on hold for now.

AL Quick Hits: Torii Hunter (ribs) is planning to rejoin the
lineup Wednesday after losing a battle with the still-unbeaten outfield
wall … Travis Hafner homered and drove in three runs Tuesday for the
second straight game … Robinson Cano and Joe Mauer both had 4-for-4
nights Tuesday … Roy Halladay (groin) played catch Tuesday and is still
hoping to make his next scheduled start … Denard Span remained
sidelined Tuesday by an inner-ear infection, but the Twins got Michael
Cuddyer, Joe Crede, and Glen Perkins back … Felix Hernandez tossed a
two-hit shutout Tuesday in San Diego … Kenji Johjima (toe) is set to
begin a rehab stint at Triple-A this weekend … Gil Meche threw shutout
ball for the second straight start Tuesday, this time with a complete
game … Carlos Quentin (foot) jogged and took batting practice Tuesday,
but remains weeks from returning … Frank Francisco (shoulder) reported
no problems following a bullpen session Tuesday.

NL Quick Hits: Ivan Rodriguez homered Tuesday while tying
Carlton Fisk for the all-time record in games caught … Johan Santana
refuted former pitching coach Rick Peterson’s claim that his surgically
repaired knee remains an issue … Willy Taveras finally snapped his
0-for-32 streak Tuesday, but Emmanuel Burriss and his 0-for-27 were
sent back to Triple-A … Chris Volstad was knocked around for eight runs
Tuesday and has served up the third-most homers in the NL … Casey
Kotchman came off the disabled list Tuesday, with Daily Dose favorite
Barbaro Canizares heading back to Triple-A … Brad Lidge (knee) reported
no problems following a bullpen session Tuesday … Chris Young looks DL
bound with a sore shoulder after failing to make it out of the third
inning Sunday … Brandon Webb (shoulder) has a bullpen session Friday
and hopes to return around the All-Star break …Edinson Volquez (elbow)
threw from 110 feet Tuesday, but isn’t close.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.