Daily Dose: Jay Bruce fractures wrist

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Jay Bruce rejoined the Reds’ lineup Saturday following a brief benching
that was meant to, as manager Dusty Baker put it, “clear his head.”
Instead he struck out in the top of the first inning and then fractured
his wrist while attempting to make a diving catch in the bottom of the
frame. The good news is that the injury was to his right wrist and
Bruce is a left-handed batter and thrower.

The bad news is that he was put on the disabled list Sunday while
the Reds wait for the results of an MRI exam to determine exactly how
long he’ll be sidelined. If the MRI results agree with the initial
X-rays Bruce should be able to avoid going under the knife, but
season-ending surgery is possible. For now Chris Dickerson and Jonny
Gomes will fill in, but the Reds may be in the market for an
outfielder.

While the Reds hope that Bruce’s sophomore season doesn’t end with a
measly .727 OPS, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* John Bowker went hitless through his first two starts since being
called up from Triple-A last week, but was 2-for-4 with a homer Sunday.
Bowker has often been overlooked by the Giants and will likely need to
have immediate success to keep getting starts once the second half is
underway, but he’s clearly capable of being an asset in NL-only leagues
and could even emerge with mixed-league value.

Bower has posted a modest .700 OPS through 362 plate appearances in
the big leagues, but batted .322/.416/.550 at Triple-A and
.307/.363/.523 at Double-A to show that he’ll likely produce if given
the chance. He’s already 26 years old, so stardom isn’t in Bowker’s
future, but he has 20-homer power with solid on-base skills and should
hit around .270 with a handful of steals.

* Matt Cain left Saturday’s game in the second inning after being
hit on the elbow by a line drive and has been replaced by Zach Duke for
the All-Star game, but is expected to make his next scheduled start
Sunday. Cain described his elbow as “just sore” and said that “it feels
better than we really thought it would.” He ends the first half at 10-2
with a 2.38 ERA and 95/46 K/BB ratio in 117 innings.

* With both Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield picked for the All-Star
team the Red Sox have decided to go with six starters to begin the
second half. Clay Buchholz will get the nod Friday against the Blue
Jays, but he’ll almost surely go right back to Triple-A regardless of
how well he pitches. However, he’s 7-1 with a 2.99 ERA and 86/29 K/BB
ratio in 93.2 innings there and may still be a second-half factor.

AL Quick Hits: Josh Beckett picked up his 100th career victory
Sunday with his fourth career complete-game shutout … Justin Verlander
shut out the Indians for seven innings Sunday and is tied with Tim
Lincecum for the MLB lead with 149 strikeouts … Carlos Gomez went
3-for-5 with a homer Sunday, knocking in five runs … John Lackey tossed
seven innings of two-run ball Sunday to out-duel CC Sabathia and
complete a three-game sweep of the Yankees … Jason Bay didn’t have an
official at-bat despite reaching base five times Sunday, drawing three
walks and being hit by two pitches … Kevin Slowey (wrist) was unable to
throw a bullpen session Sunday, so he’ll miss at least one more
rotation turn … Brandon Inge went deep twice Sunday after being picked
to the Home Run Derby … Mark Buehrle failed to pitch at least five
innings Sunday for the first time, coughing up eight runs while
recording 10 outs … Mike Lowell (wrist) is expected to come off the
disabled list Friday.

NL Quick Hits: Barry Zito was rocked for nine runs Sunday,
finishing the first half with a 5.01 ERA … Carlos Zambrano turned in a
Quality Start and smacked his third homer of the season Sunday … Carlos
Delgado (hip) hit in a cage Sunday, but remains 3-4 weeks from
potentially returning … Kyle Lohse allowed four runs over five innings
in his return from the disabled list Sunday … Will Venable went 4-for-5
with four runs and his first homer Sunday … J.A. Happ improved to 6-0
by allowing one run over seven innings Sunday … Clayton Kershaw got the
best of Yovani Gallardo with six innings of one-run ball Sunday … Brian
Moehler had six shutout innings Sunday, slicing his ERA to 5.08 …
Florida sent Sean West to the minors Sunday despite posting a 4.91 ERA
through his first 10 starts … Brad Hawpe homered and delivered a
walk-off double Sunday, heading into the break with a .320 batting
average.

Aaron Judge broke a dubious record last night

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Aaron Judge hit a monster home run in last night’s win over the Mets, but he also set a dubious record. Judge struck out for the 33rd consecutive game, setting a new mark for a position player in a single season.

Yes, that’s qualified. No pitchers, of course, as I assume many of them have struck out in more than 33 straight games. Also,  Adam Dunn once struck out in 36 straight games, but that straddled two seasons: he struck out in the final four games of 2011 and the first 32 games of 2012. Still, Judge’s feat is impressive, and given the nature of his game and the state of baseball these days, it’s not hard to imagine him striking out in three or four more straight games anyway.

None of which, by the way, should be all that much of a slight on Judge. The guy is still hitting .291/.420/.614, even with his second half slump. If I was a manager I’d happily accept his whiffs in exchange for everything else he brings to the table. It’s not 1959 anymore, and strikeouts are not the worst thing that can happen.

The Cubs gave Rick Renteria a World Series Ring

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It was revealed, in the course of a Jerry Reinsdorf interview the other day, that the Chicago Cubs gave Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria a World Series ring.

Renteria, of course, managed the Cubs for one season — in 2014 — and was fired when Joe Maddon became available after exiting his contract with the Rays. Renteria did an OK job with the Cubs — they were 73-89, which was seven games better than they had been the year before, and in the normal course would never have been fired after that showing — but the thinking by the Cubs front office was that they wanted Maddon, and not Renteria, to be in charge of taking a young and talented team from the land of rebuilding to the land of contention. Which Maddon did, far more quickly than most expected.

It’s a nice gesture by the Cubs, and I have no issue with it at all. If you can do a nice thing that costs you little or nothing, it’s always good to do it. And, based on his comments before yesterday’s White Sox-Dodgers game, Renteria did appreciate it. He’s been nothing but gracious since his undeserved (even if understandable) firing by the Cubs. He’s a high-road guy.

Still, I’m wondering what the inspiration for it was, because as far as I know, it’s pretty unusual for a team to give a former manager a ring in this situation, especially if the former manager had no greater history with the club (Renteria never played or coached in the Cubs system before 2014). At the time the judgment — put bluntly — was that the Cubs had a better chance to win with Maddon than Renteria, so it feels sort of . . . revisionist for them to be doing this now. Or even disrespectful on some unintentional level. Isn’t it sort of like the ex who dumped you for someone else a couple of years ago giving you a gift on their wedding day? How would that make you feel? “Glad I helped make you a better person for your new partner,” no one would say, ever.

In reality, I imagine that the thinking is a benign and somewhat cosmic “it takes a village” kind of thing and that the Cubs brass believes that anyone who had even a small hand in what became the 2016 Cubs should be rewarded. And, like I said above: nice gestures are good things and this is a nice gesture.

Still, there’s an element to this that strikes me as weird. Almost as if it’s a guilt-assuaging move on some level. “Er, uh, sorry for that awkwardness when we dumped you for the prettier girl a couple of years back. No hard feelings?”