Daily Dose: Halladay and Downs go down

Leave a comment

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.

Josh Hamilton has knee surgery, out 2-3 months

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Getty Images
3 Comments

Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.

As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:

That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
7 Comments

Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.