Daily Dose: Webb may be done for 2009

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Brandon Webb has undergone two MRI exams since canceling a bullpen
session last Friday after a setback with his injured shoulder and
manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday that “it’s hard to say” if Arizona’s
ace will pitch again this season. “The priorities have shifted to
making sure we know everything about his health, about what’s causing
his pain,” Hinch said. “Pitching in 2009 is a distant second.”

Webb hasn’t pitched since a rough Opening Day outing and has
struggled dating back to last August, which has the Diamondbacks very
concerned given that he’s made no progress in three months on the
sidelines with what was initially termed a muscle injury. There’s now
speculation that he’ll need surgery to repair tears in his tendon or
ligament, but there’s no real use guessing without the MRI results.

While the Diamondbacks’ season keeps going from bad to worse, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Joey Votto came off the disabled list Tuesday and revealed that
his month-long absence was due to depression following the death of his
father last year. “There were nights that I couldn’t be alone,” Votto
said. “The very first night I was alone was when I went to the
hospital. I couldn’t take it. It just got to the point where I felt I
was going to die, really.”

Votto described how panic attacks led him to seek medical help and
caused him to be removed from several games, which makes his batting
.357/.464/.627 in 38 games all the more amazing. Obviously the Reds and
Votto’s fantasy owners will be keeping close tabs on him going forward,
and he hopped back into the lineup Tuesday night by going 1-for-4 with
two strikeouts while batting third.

* Plans for Kelvim Escobar to replace Scot Shields in the Angels’
bullpen took a hit Monday when he had a “pinching sensation” in his
injured right shoulder while playing catch. He met Tuesday with Dr.
Lewis Yocum and said afterward: “I think I need to slow down. I
expected to feel a lot better, but sometimes it takes time.” Escobar’s
uncertain status may lead to the Angels pursuing relief help via trade.

* San Diego activated Scott Hairston from the disabled list Tuesday
and cleared room for him by placing Brian Giles on the shelf with a
knee injury. Whether knee issues are to blame for Giles’ abysmal
.191/.277/.271 line is unclear, but sending him to the DL is the
easiest way to clear the Padres’ outfield logjam that includes
Hairston, Tony Gwynn Jr., Chase Headley, and recent call-up Kyle
Blanks.

AL Quick Hits: Roy Halladay (groin) tossed a bullpen session
Tuesday and is on track to rejoin the rotation next week … Magglio
Ordonez was back in the lineup Tuesday after a brief benching …
Chien-Ming Wang pitched fairly well Tuesday while giving up three runs
in five innings, but still fell to 0-6 … Alex Gordon (hip) is expected
to begin a rehab stint next week … Josh Outman (elbow) is slated to
undergo an MRI exam Wednesday and won’t be able to throw for at least a
few days … Asdrubal Cabrera (shoulder) reportedly could come off the
disabled list as soon as Thursday … Ryan Raburn blasted a walk-off
homer as a pinch-hitter Tuesday as Kevin Gregg blew his third save …
Jason Kubel remained out of the lineup Tuesday with flu-like symptoms …
Scott Kazmir (quad) said Tuesday that he’s ready to rejoin the rotation
after one rehab start and hours later David Price was rocked for 10
runs in a World Series rematch against the Phillies.

NL Quick Hits: Joel Pineiro tossed a complete-game shutout
Tuesday, giving up just two hits to the Mets … Ryan Howard (flu)
started at designated hitter and hit an RBI double Tuesday … Jonathan
Broxton picked up a one-out save Tuesday when Hiroki Kuroda couldn’t
quite finish the game … Derrek Lee went 2-for-3 with a double Tuesday,
extending his hitting streak to 20 games … Dave Bush is expected to
miss 2-3 weeks with a small tear in his biceps … Aramis Ramirez
(shoulder) is scheduled to take batting practice Friday … Miguel
Montero will be Arizona’s main catcher with Chris Snyder (back) put on
the disabled list Tuesday and Chris Young (groin) may soon be joining
him … Tommy Hanson struggled with his control Tuesday, but improved to
3-0 by shutting out the Yankees for 5.1 innings … Raul Ibanez (groin)
took batting practice Tuesday and hopes to come off the DL when
eligible next week.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.

Tony Clark is not happy so many players remain unsigned

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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We’re almost halfway through February. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon. And yet, there are more than a handful of solid free agents that remain unsigned. Among them: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. All three have draft pick compensation tied to them, as each rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from his respective former team. That, undoubtedly, is a reason why they haven’t inked a contract yet.

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark is unhappy about this reality and expects to discuss potential changes when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current CBA expires after the 2016 season. Per the Associated Press, Clark said last week, “I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.”

Clark also mentioned, among other things, the possibility of a draft lottery, which would take away the incentive for teams to “tank”, or lose on purpose. The Astros and Phillies have notably done this in recent years, finishing with baseball’s worst record and thus netting the #1 overall draft pick.

These are, however, simply two items of many that will be discussed during the upcoming offseason. It will be interesting to see what solutions are eventually put in place.

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.

Brewers GM: Acquiring Jacob Nottingham doesn’t change Jonathan Lucroy’s status

Jonathan Lucroy
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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The Brewers acquired prospects Jake Nottingham and Bubba Derby from the Athletics on Friday in exchange for slugging outfielder Khris Davis. The hope is that Nottingham will develop into the Brewers’ catcher of the future, so you could say that the club is planning for life after Jonathan Lucroy. However, Brewers general manager David Stearns said today that the trade doesn’t change Lucroy’s immediate status.

The Brewers are in rebuild-mode and Lucroy is an excellent trade chip if healthy, as his contract includes a $5.25 million club option for 2017. It’s likely just a matter of time before he’s shipped elsewhere, but yesterday’s trade shouldn’t change the timeline for a potential deal. Nottingham doesn’t turn 21 until April and has yet to play in Double-A, so he’s still a ways off from the majors. The Brewers can afford to wait on the right offer for Lucroy, whether it’s in spring training or at the trade deadline or perhaps later.

Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Nottingham batted .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs over 109 games last season between Class A and High-A. He was traded from the Astros to the Athletics as part of the Scott Kazmir deal last July. It’s worth noting that Stearns was the assistant GM for Houston when Nottingham was drafted in the sixth round back in 2013, so he’s clearly a fan.