Daily Dose: Beltran joins teammates on DL

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Carlos Beltran had been hoping to play through the bone bruise in his
right knee, but instead joined the Mets’ crowded disabled list after
undergoing an MRI exam Monday. General manager Omar Minaya indicated
that the DL stint may last just two weeks, but there’s no official
diagnosis yet. Beltran has been playing through various injuries all
season, yet never slowed down while hitting .336/.425/.527.

Jeremy Reed started in Beltran’s place Monday night, but went
0-for-4 as his line dropped to .278/.307/.347 on the year, and the Mets
could give an extended shot to Fernando Martinez after recalling him
from Triple-A. Martinez has hit .291 with a strong .885 OPS in 44 games
at Triple-A, but looked overmatched while going 12-for-62 (.194) with
the Mets and the 20-year-old likely isn’t ready to thrive yet.

While the Mets close to 1.5 games in the NL East despite running out
of healthy players, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Speaking of Mets on the shelf, Oliver Perez and John Maine
rehabbed together at Single-A by each starting one game of a
doubleheader Monday. Maine tossed six innings of one-run ball as he
comes back from shoulder soreness, but Perez allowed six runs in three
innings in his recovery from a knee injury. Neither looks ready to
rejoin the rotation, but Maine could be back after one more rehab
start.

* Having oddly decided to start him in 38 straight games fresh off
hip surgery the Yankees have apparently now concluded that Alex
Rodriguez needs rest. He sat out Friday and Saturday and the team
announced Monday that he’s scheduled to receive one day off per week
through the All-Star break. He’s a career .304 hitter who’s never
batted under .285, so much is being made of his lowly .213 average.

However, with nine homers, six doubles, and 30 walks in 170 plate
appearances his power and patience have been just fine and Rodriguez is
actually striking out less often than he has in any season since 1998.
He’s in a 9-for-59 (.153) slump this month and giving him regular days
off should have always been in the plans, but much of his struggles can
be traced to some singles not falling in. Be patient.

* Ervin Santana felt soreness in his forearm while throwing a
bullpen session this weekend, so the Angels scratched him from his
scheduled Tuesday start against the Rockies and put him on the disabled
list. While clearly a setback, the move is retroactive to June 12 and
would allow Santana to return from the DL as soon as this Friday.
However, that seems unlikely given his ugly 7.47 ERA in six outings.

Note: As the first half comes to a close, we’re now offering a “Midseason Report” that includes all the outstanding content from our “Season Pass” product plus a ton of new articles, rankings, and projections tailored for the second half.

AL Quick Hits: Grady Sizemore (elbow) is planning to come off
the disabled list Tuesday, but remains one setback from season-ending
surgery … Scott Kazmir (elbow) tossed six innings of one-run ball in a
rehab outing Monday at Triple-A, striking out five and walking zero …
Angels general manager Tony Reagins said Monday that the team isn’t
interested in Pedro Martinez … Out since April with a partially torn
elbow ligament, Xavier Nady is set to start a rehab stint Wednesday at
Triple-A … Akinori Iwamura tore his ACL last month, but is now hoping
to play again this season after undergoing surgery Monday … Josh Outman
is expected to miss Wednesday’s start because of elbow soreness … CC
Sabathia (biceps) remains optimistic about not missing a start, but the
Yankees won’t make a call until after his bullpen session Wednesday …
Asdrubal Cabrera (shoulder) began what’s slated to be a three-week
rehab assignment Monday at Double-A.

NL Quick Hits: Out since last month, Joey Votto has reportedly
joined the Reds in Toronto and is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday
night … Ryan Howard’s status remains unclear after being diagnosed with
acute sinusitis … Albert Pujols reportedly “called his shot” before
blasting a game-breaking grand slam Sunday, which apparently surprised no one
… Alfonso Soriano is just 12-for-73 (.164) this month, so he got Monday
off while the Cubs were shut out … Manny Ramirez is expected to begin
playing in minor-league games Tuesday in preparation for his July 3
return from suspension … Yunel Escobar was scratched from Monday’s
lineup with a strained hip, which is the same injury that sidelined him
for a week last month … Javier Vazquez worked around 11 base runners
while throwing 6.2 shutout innings Monday … Alex Gonzalez will miss 4-6
weeks following surgery Monday to remove bone chips from his elbow.

Crowd honors Jose Bautista in his last Blue Jays home game

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Jose Bautista ran onto the field on Sunday afternoon, alone, in what was likely his last hurrah as a Blue Jays player. The 36-year-old outfielder signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the club prior to the 2017 season and is not expected to get his $17 million option picked up for 2018. During Sunday’s series finale, he got a fond farewell befitting a decade-long career as one of Toronto’s most prolific hitters, drawing standing ovations every time he stepped up to the plate.

The Blue Jays came out swinging against the Yankees, building an eight-run lead on Teoscar Hernandez’s first-inning home run and a smattering of hits and productive outs from Darwin Barney, Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Kendrys Morales. Bautista supplemented the drive with his own RBI single in the fourth inning, plating Hernandez on an 0-2 fastball from reliever Bryan Mitchell.

Later in the inning, he nearly scored a second run on a Kendrys Morales two-RBI single, but was caught at the plate on the relay by Starlin Castro.

It’s an encouraging end to what has overwhelmingly been a disappointing season for the Toronto slugger. Entering Sunday’s finale, he slashed .201/.309/.365 with a franchise single-season record 161 strikeouts in 658 plate appearances, numbers that somewhat obscure the six straight All-Star nominations, four MVP bids and 54-homer campaign he once enjoyed with the team. Even a bounce-back performance in 2018 likely wouldn’t command a $17 million salary, but there’s no denying his impact on the Blue Jays’ last 10 years, from his signature bat flip to his tie-breaking home run in the 2015 ALDS.

The Blue Jays currently lead the Yankees 9-2 in the top of the sixth inning. Expect a few more standing O’s before the end of the game.

Why more baseball players don’t kneel

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Bruce Maxwell was the first baseball player to kneel for the National Anthem. There may be others who do so, but I don’t suspect many will. Indeed, I’m pretty confident that the protests we’re seeing in the NFL today, and will see more of once basketball season begins, will not become a major thing in baseball.

Some will say it’s because baseball or baseball players are more patriotic or something, but I don’t think that’s it. Yes, baseball is a lot whiter and has a lot of conservative players who would never think to protest during the National Anthem or, for that matter, protest anything at all, but I suspect there are many who saw what Colin Kaepernick and other football players have done — or who have listened to what Steph Curry and LeBron James have said — and agreed with it. Yet I do not think many, if any of them will themselves protest.

Why? I think it mostly comes down to baseball’s culture of conformity.

Almost everyone in baseball comes through a hierarchy. Even the big names. Even if you are the consensus number one pick, you do your time in the minors. Once there, conformity and humility is drilled into you. This happens both affirmatively, in the form of coaches telling you to act in a certain way and passively, by virtue of all players being in similar, humbling circumstances. Bus rides, cheap hotels, etc. In that world, even if you are ten times better and ten times richer than your teammates, you fall in with the crowd because doing otherwise would be socially disruptive.

The very socialization of a baseball player is dependent upon them learning to talk, walk and carry themselves like all those who came before. No one is given special treatment. In the rare cases they are, it’s head-turning. Bryce Harper was a more or less normal minor leaguer, but since he got their earlier by bypassing his final years of high school, he was thrown at and challenged in ways no other minor league stars are. It does not take much for a guy to be singled out for punishment or mockery and even the superstars like Harper are not on solid professional ground as long as they’re still in the minors. Indeed, between a player’s education, as it were, in the minors and their pre-free agency residency in the majors, it can be a decade or more before a unique personality or a true showman is able to shine through, and by then few are willing. They’ve been conditioned by that point.

Even budding superstars can be roundly criticized for the tiniest of perceived transgressions or the most modest displays of individuality. Think about all of the “controversies” we have about the proper way to celebrate a home run or run the bases. If that’s a cause for singling out and, potentially, benching or being traded or being given a shorter leash, imagine the guts a baseball player has to have in order to do something like take a knee during the National Anthem. A guy with multiple MVP Awards would likely be in an uncomfortable spotlight over such a thing, so imagine how brave someone like Bruce Maxwell, who has barely 100 games under his belt, has to be to have done it.

CC Sabathia, a 17-year veteran, spoke out yesterday, but I suspect he won’t kneel for the National Anthem when he lines up with his teammates before the Wild Card game next week. Other ballplayers will likely wade into the fray in the coming days. But I suspect baseball’s very nature — it’s very culture — will keep ballplayers from following in the footsteps of the many NFL players who took a knee today.