Daily Dose: Halladay and Downs go down

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Already wrecked by injuries, the Blue Jays’ pitching staff will likely
add two more big names to the disabled list. Roy Halladay experienced a
setback with his groin injury during a bullpen session Wednesday and is
headed for the shelf, but noted that he “absolutely” expects to rejoin
the rotation when eligible on June 28. Brett Cecil seems like the best
candidate to fill-in after holding his own in his debut.

Halladay could pitch again this month, but Toronto will probably be
without Scott Downs for quite a bit longer after he sprained a toe
while hitting Tuesday. Downs has done a great job since taking over
closer duties from B.J. Ryan, saving eight games with a 1.98 ERA and
28/4 K/BB ratio, but Ryan may get a second chance after eight straight
scoreless appearances. Jason Frasor is the other option.

While the Blue Jays try to stay above .500 with approximately 50
pitchers on the DL, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Pedro Martinez has reportedly been working out five days per week
recently in the Dominican Republic and said Wednesday that he’s close
to signing with an undisclosed team. “There’s a good chance I’ll be
signing soon, but there still isn’t anything firm,” Martinez said. He
listed the Cubs and Rays as the two teams that “have shown the most
interest” before adding that “we’re negotiating with them.”

* It took 14 games and 50 plate appearances, but Matt Wieters hit
his first career homer Wednesday against Tim Redding. Wieters is
batting .240/.283/.380 with a 12/3 K/BB ratio and four extra-base hits
overall, which clearly isn’t the production that owners had in mind
when he was called up amid crazy hype last month, but he’s 10-for-35
(.286) over the past 10 games and will get on track soon enough.

* Erik Bedard was placed on the disabled list Wednesday and will
have his sore shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews next week, which
could ruin whatever plans the Mariners had of cashing in the impending
free agent before the July 31 trading deadline. Bedard is 5-2 with a
2.47 ERA and 65/22 K/BB ratio through 66 innings, so if healthy he
would have been very attractive to contending teams.

* John Smoltz made his final minor-league rehab start Wednesday,
giving up one run in four innings at Triple-A. He threw just 60 pitches
in preparation for his Red Sox debut next week, striking out three,
walking one, and allowing three hits. His first matchup will be next
Thursday against the Nationals, but mixed leaguers will likely want to
take a wait-and-see approach initially.

AL Quick Hits: Brad Penny picked up his 100th career win by
allowing one run in five innings Wednesday … Scott Kazmir (quadriceps)
tossed 4.2 shutout innings in his first rehab start Wednesday at
Single-A … Torii Hunter (ribs) came off the bench Wednesday, going
1-for-2 while playing center field … Derek Jeter (ankle) sat out
Wednesday’s game, but an MRI exam revealed no big damage … Dustin
Pedroia was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two steals Wednesday … Carl
Pavano’s next start has been pushed back four days due to a sore
shoulder … Pat Burrell played the outfield Wednesday for the first time
with the Rays … Scott Richmond had a career-high 11 strikeouts over
eight innings of one-run ball Wednesday for his first win since May 3 …
Chien-Ming Wang fell to 0-5 with a 12.65 ERA, giving up three runs over
five innings Wednesday as Phil Hughes relieved him with two shutout
frames … Zack Greinke allowed six runs Wednesday for his worst start.

NL Quick Hits: Micah Owings tossed six innings of two-run ball
Wednesday and smacked a three-run homer in a 4-3 win … Gary Sheffield
homered Wednesday for the third time in five games, quieting concerns
about his knee injury … Pablo Sandoval started at third base Wednesday
for the first time this month and went 0-for-3 … Ryan Braun left
Wednesday’s game with lower back tightness … Jerry Manuel said
Wednesday that Jose Reyes (calf) is at least a week from beginning a
rehab stint … Tim Lincecum allowed four runs in eight innings Wednesday
for his first loss since April 12 … Alfonso Soriano continued to
struggle Wednesday by going 0-for-4 with his sixth error … John Lannan
held the Yankees to a pair of runs in 8.1 innings Wednesday before Mike
MacDougal got the final two outs for a save … Joey Votto took batting
practice Wednesday and is close to beginning a rehab assignment …
Jonathan Broxton (toe) was unavailable Wednesday.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”