Daily Dose: Cardinals bring in help for Pujols

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Acquired from Cleveland for Chris Perez plus a player to be named
later, Mark DeRosa jumped right into St. Louis’ cleanup spot Sunday and
went 0-for-3 with a walk hitting behind Albert Pujols. While not a
prototypical cleanup hitter, DeRosa has batted .280/.364/.473 with 34
homers and 43 doubles since the beginning of last year, compared to the
measly .220/.297/.387 produced behind Pujols so far.

He’s a nice pickup for the Cardinals, who can either re-sign him or
take draft pick compensation if he leaves as a free agent. Depending on
the PTBNL the Indians also did fairly well cashing in a guy they
acquired this winter for three mediocre prospects, because Perez is a
23-year-old with a 3.72 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 65 innings as a big
leaguer and should be a quality setup man or closer option.

While the Cardinals help a lineup that beyond Pujols has hit just
.248 with a .381 slugging percentage, here are some other notes from
around baseball …

* Antonio Bastardo has been scratched from his scheduled Wednesday
start with shoulder soreness and has left the team to undergo further
tests, so Philadelphia will call up Carlos Carrasco to fill in. He’s
been the Phillies’ top pitching prospect for years, but Carrasco’s
stats haven’t quite matched the hype with a 4.14 ERA and 239/83 K/BB
ratio in 237 innings between Double-A and Triple-A since 2008.

* Josh Outman’s promising rookie year may be finished after Oakland
transferred him to the 60-day disabled list Sunday. He had been sent to
the 15-day DL last week with a sprained left elbow and there’s
speculation that he may be headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery
that would knock him out into the middle of 2010. He’ll meet with Dr.
James Andrews before any decision is made.

* Adrian Beltre and the Mariners have already decided that he’ll
undergo surgery to remove bone spurs from his left shoulder, but
haven’t settled on an exact date yet. In the meantime he’s still
playing, starting at third base and knocking in a run Sunday, but the
surgery is expected to sideline him for at least a month and take place
at some point this week. Chris Woodward seems like the probable fill
in.

* Xavier Nady had to remove himself from a minor-league rehab game
Thursday after experiencing pain in his partially torn elbow ligament
and reportedly may be headed for Tommy John surgery. While the
operation isn’t as bad for hitters, he’d be finished for this year and
questionable for the first few months of 2010, so the impending free
agent may be done with the Yankees.

AL Quick Hits: Josh Hamilton (abdomen) is expected to start a
rehab assignment Monday at Double-A … Zack Greinke was limited to 6.1
innings Sunday due to a rain delay, but picked up his 10th victory …
Asdrubal Cabrera returned from the disabled list Sunday less than four
weeks after suffering an ugly looking shoulder injury … Francisco
Liriano turned in perhaps his best start of the season Sunday with
seven innings of two-run ball … Aaron Hill went deep twice Sunday and
has already set a career-high with 19 on the year … Adam Kennedy slid
to third base Sunday with Mark Ellis coming off the DL … David Price
gave up just one run in 6.1 innings Sunday, but again struggled with
his control by walking five … Alexei Ramirez went 3-for-5 with a homer
Sunday and is batting .301 with nine homers in his last 40 games … John
Danks shut out the Cubs for seven innings Sunday for his fourth
straight Quality Start … Reports suggest that impending free agent
Jason Bay is close to beginning long-term contract talks with the Red
Sox.

NL Quick Hits: Jamie Moyer moved past Bob Gibson into 45th place
all time with his 252nd career victory Sunday … Kyle Lohse (forearm) is
expected to begin a rehab assignment Thursday at Double-A … Nate
Schierholtz went 4-for-5 with a homer Sunday and is hitting .312 with
nine extra-base hits in 22 starts … Tommy Hanson improved to 4-0 with
six scoreless innings Sunday and hasn’t allowed a run in three starts …
Ryan Sadowski tossed six shutout innings in his big-league debut
Sunday, getting a dozen outs on the ground … Despite leading the team
in wins, Shairon Martis is being bounced from the rotation to make room
for Scott Olsen … Ryan Doumit (wrist) is slated to start rehabbing
Tuesday at Single-A in the hopes of returning next week … Aaron Cook
tossed eight innings of one-run ball Sunday, with Huston Street closing
out his eighth win … Max Scherzer gave up eight runs Sunday, but only
three were earned.

CC Sabathia won’t visit the White House if the Yankees win the World Series

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Over the past couple of days the subject of athlete activism, always present to some degree in American sports, but recently revived by Colin Kaepernick and a few other football players in the form of silent protests during the National Anthem, exploded into a headline dominating news story. Lighting the fuse: President Trump directly inserting himself into the controversy.

He did so during a speech on Friday night and during a series of tweets Saturday and continuing into this morning in which he urged NFL owners to “fire” or suspend players who do not stand for the national anthem. He also attempted to disinvite the NBA champion Golden State Warriors from their traditional White House visit because of their star player Stephen Curry’s public opposition to him, though Curry had already said he wouldn’t go.

As Ashley wrote last night, the silent anthem protests have now come to baseball, with A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell becoming the fist player to kneel during the National Anthem. Before that, at least one baseball executive, Orioles Vice President John P. Angelos, came out strongly on the side of players and against Trump. Joe Maddon said some less-than-enlightened words on the matter. Major League Baseball issued a statement on the matter. It was, not surprisingly, somewhat empty, taking something of a both-sides-have-good-points tack. It’s understandable, I suppose. I suspect Major League Baseball and its owners would prefer to not have to comment on this at all. The league does not do this sort of controversy well.

Ballplayers, however, will likely continue to speak up. The latest: Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who was asked yesterday whether he would visit the White House if the playoff-bound Yankees won the World Series. From the Daily News:

“Never. I just don’t believe in anything that is Trump. So there wouldn’t be any reason for me to go at all. I just think it’s stupid. I just think it’s dumb that he’s addressing players and stuff that he shouldn’t be. But it is what it is, and that’s the country we live in these days . . . I’m proud of the way that everybody has Steph’s back and just athletes in general these days, the way everybody has been stepping up has been great.”

Baseball players, as we’ve noted many times over the years, tend to be a more conservative bunch than football or basketball players. There are a lot more white players and a lot more players from southern, suburban and exurban areas. A significant number of racial-ethnic minority players were not born in the United States, so U.S. politics may not necessarily preoccupy them the way it may players from the United States. As such, political protest like we’ve seen in the NFL and NBA was never going to start in baseball in 2017.

But that does not mean that it was not going to come to baseball. Contrary to what so many fans seem to think, sports do not exist inside some bubble into which the real world does not intrude. Athletes are citizens just like you and me with social, political and personal concerns just like you and me. And, at the moment, a government official is demanding that they lose their jobs because he does not agree with their political views and the manner in which they are expressed. I suspect most of us would get upset by that if it happened to us. Certainly a lot of people I know on the conservative side of the political expression worried about government overreach and freedom of speech. At least before January of this year.

So I am not at all surprised that baseball players like Sabathia are beginning to speak out. He will not be the last. Others will join him. Others, as is their right, will push back and say they disagree with him. If and when people feel inspired to tell them to “stick to sports,” or “stay in their lane,” perhaps they should ask why the President of the United States decided not to do so himself. And ask why he thinks it’s appropriate for athletes to lose their jobs for their political views and why private entities like the NFL should be patriotic institutions rather than businesses which put on sporting events.

 

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.