Daily Dose: Barton replaces injured Giambi

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Jason Giambi was supposed to provide some power and patience in his
return to Oakland, but like many of the A’s recent moves things didn’t
go quite as planned. Giambi hit .193/.332/.364 through 83 games while
costing the team even further with his horrible glove at first base,
and was mercifully placed on the disabled list Monday with a strained
right quadriceps muscle.

Giambi is on a one-year deal with a team option for 2010, so with
Oakland out of the playoff picture there’s no reason to rush the
38-year-old back. Daric Barton is taking his roster spot and will get
another shot to show that he’s capable of being an impact hitter.
Barton is amazingly still only 23 years old, but so far he’s hit just
.239/.338/.383 over 170 games in the majors and slugged .432 at
Triple-A.

While the A’s pay $5.3 million for 328 plate appearances of a .697 OPS, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Starting for the first time since June of 2007, Jason Schmidt
allowed three runs in the first inning Monday before recovering to
throw four scoreless frames. Five innings of three-run ball is
certainly a nice first start for Schmidt, but his final line wasn’t
pretty with two strikeouts versus three walks and his fastball was
clocked in the mid-80s for most of the night.

* Chien-Ming Wang’s chances of pitching again this season took a hit
Monday as he experienced biceps soreness during a routine game of
catch. “It’s not exactly the news that I wanted,” manager Joe Girardi
said. “We were hoping two weeks’ of rest would be enough for him to get
on a throwing program. Does it mean he won’t pitch this year? No, I’m
not saying that.”

* Scott Olsen might be facing shoulder surgery after an MRI exam
revealed what interim manager Jim Riggled called “labrum issues.”
Labrum injuries are typically far more difficult to recover from than
elbow injuries, or as Riggleman put it: “Any time you hear that word,
we figure that’s going to be a while.” Olsen is probably at minimum
finished for the season with a 2-5 record and 6.03 ERA in 11 starts.

* Frank Francisco landed on the disabled list Monday for the third
time this year, but the good news is that his arm is fine. Instead he
has what the Rangers called a mild case of pneumonia and because
Francisco hasn’t pitched in a game since July 10 he’s eligible to
return as soon as Sunday. C.J. Wilson will once again get ninth-inning
duties in the meantime.

AL Quick Hits: Out since May with a torn tendon in his foot,
Carlos Quentin came off the disabled list Monday and went 1-for-4 while
batting sixth … Nelson Cruz sat out his second straight game Monday
with a fractured ring finger, but hopes to avoid the DL … After
struggling in 14 games atop the lineup, J.D. Drew slid to the sixth
spot Monday while Jacoby Ellsbury led off … David Hernandez rejoined
the rotation Monday with six innings of one-run ball against the
Yankees … Chris Ray (biceps) is slated to begin a rehab stint Friday at
Double-A … Freddy Garcia threw a bullpen session Monday in front of
Ozzie Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper, and will head to the
minors … Mike Scioscia said Sunday that Vladimir Guerrero (knee) will
be limited to designated hitter duties when he comes off the DL … Gio
Gonzalez was rocked for 11 runs in 2.2 innings Monday against a Joe
Mauer-less Twins lineup, including seven RBIs from Justin Morneau.

NL Quick Hits: Mat Gamel was demoted back to the minors Monday
following the Brewers’ trade for Felipe Lopez … Livan Hernandez likely
saved his rotation spot with seven innings of two-run ball Monday …
Edinson Volquez (elbow) reported no problems following a bullpen
session Monday and is due to throw twice more this week … Jeff
Francoeur went 3-for-4 with a homer Monday and is now hitting .345 in
seven games with the Mets … Pedro Martinez is set to throw a simulated
game Tuesday before beginning a minor-league rehab assignment …
Jonathan Sanchez followed his no-hitter with three runs in six innings
Monday … General manager Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel have been
told that their jobs are safe in New York … Ted Lilly had been pitching
well, but was rocked for nine runs in four innings Monday … Fernando
Nieve is expected to miss at least six weeks with a torn thigh muscle
suffered Sunday.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.