Daily Dose: Brandon Webb doesn't need shoulder surgery

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After being examined by three different doctors in three different
states this week Brandon Webb was told that he doesn’t need shoulder
surgery. However, he has also been advised not to throw for at least
another six weeks and is not expected to come off the disabled list
before September, if at all this year. Even if he’s not going to pitch
again this season Webb’s recovery is vital to his status for 2010.

Arizona holds an $8 million option on Webb for next year, along with
a $2 million buyout, so as long as he can avoid another setback while
making some progress the team seems almost certain to bring him back.
However, the Diamondbacks’ decision to pull a long-term contract offer
from the table in the middle of last year because of concerns about
Webb’s health now looks brilliant.

While one of the most durable pitchers of this era faces the
possibility of making just one start this season, here are some other
notes from around baseball …

* Fredi Gonzalez continues to say that the Marlins will use a
closer-by-committee approach with Matt Lindstrom sidelined, but Leo
Nunez picked up his fourth save Wednesday while Dan Meyer set him up by
working the eighth inning. Those are the only two real candidates for
ninth-inning duties at the moment, so Nunez has clearly taken over
primary closing duties until further notice.

* Koji Uehara was off to a nice start after coming over from Japan
this offseason, posting a 4.05 ERA and 48/12 K/BB ratio in 67 innings
before last week’s trip to the disabled list with an elbow strain.
After further tests he’s been diagnosed with a partially torn flexor
tendon, which is expected to sideline the 34-year-old for six weeks at
minimum. David Hernandez will replace him and has AL-only potential.

* On the heels of trading Lastings Milledge to the Pirates, the
Nationals demoted Elijah Dukes to Triple-A on Wednesday. Dukes is
similar to Milledge in that he’s disappointed offensively and
defensively while bringing various off-field issues to the table, but
also like Milledge he still has plenty of long-term upside and turned 25 years old last week. If the Nationals deal Dukes, they’ll be selling low again.

* Mike Aviles came out of nowhere to hit .325 as a 27-year-old rookie,
but hit just .183 through 36 games this season before being placed on
the disabled list with a strained forearm. His forearm soreness turned
out to be a torn elbow ligament and the Royals announced Wednesday that
he’ll undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Aviles now faces 9-12
months of recovery and an uncertain future.

AL Quick Hits: Alex Rodriguez homered Wednesday and has gone
deep in four of the past six games … Frank Francisco blew the save
Wednesday just hours after Ron Washington announced that he’d reclaimed
closer duties … Jason Bay struck out in all five of his at-bats
Wednesday and is in a 0-for-15 slump … Ervin Santana (triceps) is
scheduled to rejoin the rotation on Friday, according to Mike Scioscia
… Alexei Ramirez is headed for X-rays after exiting Wednesday’s game
with a finger injury … Brad Bergeson held Boston to one run over eight
innings Wednesday, but relievers blew a four-run lead … Initially set
to return Saturday, Erik Bedard (shoulder) is now due to come off the
disabled list Tuesday … Jered Weaver allowed a season-high seven runs
in a no-decision Wednesday … Jose Contreras threw eight innings of
two-run ball Wednesday, whiffing eight … Justin Morneau, Nick Punto,
and Mike Redmond left Wednesday’s game with injuries.

NL Quick Hits: Cole Hamels was knocked around for seven runs
Wednesday to leave his ERA at 4.98 … Adam Wainwright had a career-high
12 strikeouts and allowed one run in nine innings Wednesday, but took a
no-decision … Matt Diaz made a rare start Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with
a homer to put his OPS above .800 … Randy Wells induced a dozen
ground-ball outs while giving up one run in seven innings Wednesday,
giving him a 2.43 ERA in 10 starts … Jason Hammel took a complete-game
loss Wednesday despite allowing just one run because Clayton Kershaw
combined with three relievers for a shutout … Jair Jurrjens had seven
innings of one-run, one-hit ball Wednesday to even his mark at 6-6 …
San Diego is shopping Kevin Kouzmanoff, with Seattle said to be
interested … Colby Rasmus delivered a walk-off homer Wednesday after
Pablo Sandoval dropped a foul ball … Johnny Cueto tossed six shutout
innings in a 1-0 victory Wednesday.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.