Daily Dose: Tommy John surgery for Nady

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Xavier Nady felt a “sharp pain” in his elbow on April 14 and reports
immediately surfaced that he’d need surgery. He opted instead to rehab
the injury and looked to be making good progress, but suffered a
setback during a minor-league game last week and the Yankees confirmed
Thursday that he’ll undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.

A fluky .330 batting average had Nady’s value at an all-time high
when New York acquired him last July, but he was a career
.272/.327/.441 hitter heading into the season and hit a nearly
identical .270/.319/.469 in 66 post-trade games. Damaso Marte was
included in the deal along with Nady and has been awful since, so the
Yankees got little value for Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, and Jeff

Nady faces 9-12 months on the sidelines and is an impending free
agent, so he’s unlikely to re-sign with the Yankees and may have
trouble securing more than an incentive-laden deal on the open market.
Tabata was the centerpiece of the deal and has struggled at Double-A,
but he’s still just 20 years old and Pittsburgh has already gotten 238
innings of 4.57 ERA pitching from Ohlendorf and Karstens.

While the Nady trade looks a whole lot different now than it did at the time, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* If you watched the World Baseball Classic the name Aroldis Chapman
should ring a bell, as the 21-year-old southpaw flashed a high-90s
fastball while pitching for Cuba. Earlier this week he defected while
the Cuban national team was in the Netherlands for a tournament.
Chapman explained afterward that he just walked right out of the team
hotel and hopped into a waiting car.

“Now the plan is to sign with a major-league team,” Chapman said.
Seven years ago Jose Contreras defected in a very similar manner before
signing a four-year, $32 million contract with the Yankees. Contreras
was already 30 years old at the time and the consensus has Chapman as a
vastly superior talent, so speculation is that he could command upwards
of $60 million in a bidding war.

Chapman should be targeted heavily in any keeper league where he’s
available, because after watching him in the WBC there’s no doubt that
his raw stuff is elite and has the potential to make him an ace.
However, even with a 100-mph heater and promising off-speed pitches
he’s far from ready to thrive at the age of 21. He had a 5.68 ERA
during the WBC and a 4.03 ERA in Cuba last season.

* Perhaps regretting their decision to trade Mark DeRosa in
December, the Cubs traded for a poor man’s version Thursday by getting
Jeff Baker from the Rockies. Baker isn’t as versatile defensively or as
potent offensively, but can play second base, third base, and the
outfield corners while hitting .257/.313/.458. Of course, he’s batted
just .205/.266/.343 away from Coors Field, so don’t expect too much.

AL Quick Hits: CC Sabathia allowed six runs on 10 hits in 5.2
innings Thursday, giving up more than four runs for the first time
since mid-April … Despite his 7-1 record, Matt Palmer has been demoted
to the Angels’ bullpen to make room for Ervin Santana (triceps) in the
rotation … Vicente Padilla’s next outing has been pushed back to
Tuesday because of shoulder soreness … Mark Buehrle took a shutout into
the ninth inning Thursday while improving to 8-2 … Alexei Ramirez sat
out Thursday’s game after bruising his finger the night before … Tampa
Bay added former top prospect John Meloan to the bullpen mix Thursday,
hoping that the 25-year-old can rediscover his once dominant stuff …
Ichiro Suzuki swiped a base and doubled twice Thursday, boosting his
batting average to .370 … After never playing an inning at the position
prior to this year, Ty Wigginton appeared at shortstop Thursday for the
fifth time this season.

NL Quick Hits: Raul Ibanez (groin) has had his rehab assignment
pushed back twice, so he won’t be rejoining the Phillies until at least
next week … Joey Votto went 4-for-6 with a walk-off single Thursday and
is 15-for-38 (.395) since coming off the disabled list … Tim Redding
allowed five runs while recording seven outs Thursday, as his ERA rose
to 6.99 … Alfonso Soriano was a healthy scratch for the second straight
game Thursday, with Sam Fuld starting in his place … About one month
removed from hip surgery, Brett Myers will begin a throwing program
next week … Derrek Lee went deep twice and drove in a career-high seven
runs Thursday … Matt Diaz had another strong game Thursday, going
3-for-4 with a double and a steal … Doug Davis got stuck with a
no-decision for seven innings of one-run ball Thursday, making him 3-8
despite a 3.15 ERA … Mark DeRosa (wrist) is unlikely to start again
until Tuesday, according to Tony La Russa.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.