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.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.

Masahiro Tanaka throws off mound for first time since October elbow surgery

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According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.

The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.

Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.

The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.

Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.

Bud Selig to teach a class at Arizona State law school

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Before Bud Selig ultimately retired, he had a couple of false start retirement announcements only to have the owners beg him to sign on for one more term. In one of those false starts he talked about how the University of Wisconsin had set up an office for him in the history department and that he’d be doing some research and teaching a class now and again. And he has, in fact, taught some one-off seminars at Wisconsin’s law school and the like.

Now something a little more permanent along those lines is in the works for The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History. The Arizona Republic reports that Selig will join the Sports Law and Business program at Arizona State University’s law school where he will teach and advise as well as start up a speakers series in which he will bring in high-powered guests. No word on how many speakers will talk about big, important historical sports law cases like, say collusion in baseball, which was orchestrated by an ownership class in the mid-to-late 80s, of which Bud Selig was far and away the most influential member. That could get sort of awkward, I suppose.

Either way, it’s a good way to keep busy. I mean, that’s what it has to be as he’s not hurting for cash, what with the obscene $6 million severance package the owners gave him to, I dunno, not give interviews about bad stuff that happened back in the day like Fay Vincent does all the time. Stuff like collusion. Maybe he gets the $6 million for some other purpose. Who can say, really? It’s never made any sort of sense otherwise.

Anyway, good luck in Tempe, Bud. Maybe I’ll stop by your office at ASU when I’m there next month — I always stay in Tempe — and we can chew the fat or climb that butte with the big A on it or something. First round at Four Peaks afterward is on me.

White Sox sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa

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First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.

Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.

Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.

It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.