Daily Dose: Bedard hits the DL again

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Erik Bedard came off the disabled list on July 7, went 0-1 with a 4.15
ERA in 17 innings spread over four starts while working on a limited
pitch count, and landed back on the shelf Sunday. Shoulder problems are
once again to blame, and the Mariners are calling the latest issue
inflammation while hoping to get him back in a couple weeks.

While the latest trip to the DL ruins whatever chance the Mariners
had of dealing Bedard prior to Friday’s deadline, the injury should
make it easier for him to pass through waivers unclaimed after July 31.
In other words, if he comes back in two weeks and looks healthy,
Seattle may still have an opportunity to cash Bedard in before he hits
free agency. He’s continued to pitch well throughout the injuries.

While the Mariners keep chugging along just 10 wins from last year’s total, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Brett Gardner has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees, as the
25-year-old rookie hit .275/.354/.400 with 20 steals in 25 attempts and
great defense through 85 games while splitting time with Melky Cabrera
in center field. Unfortunately he suffered a broken left thumb while
sliding into second base Saturday and will be in a cast for the next
couple weeks before being evaluated further.

Triple-A center fielder Austin Jackson is one of baseball’s best
outfield prospects and is hitting .311/.375/.429 with 17 steals in 92
games, but manager Joe Girardi indicated Sunday that the 22-year-old is
unlikely to be called up as Cabrera gets another chance to play every
day. In terms of offense his .285/.347/.433 mark is nearly identical to
Gardner, but Cabrera’s glove and wheels are downgrades.

* After going 0-for-4 in his big-league debut Saturday, Michael
Saunders notched a pair of hits Sunday while driving in his first
career run. Seattle cleared room for Saunders by designating Wladimir
Belantien for assignment in preparation for a trade, leaving Ryan
Langerhans as his only real competition for playing time and all but
guaranteeing the 22-year-old top prospect regular starts down the
stretch.

Saunders batted .290/.374/.484 at Double-A last season before
struggling after a promotion to Triple-A, but mastered Tacoma while
hitting .310/.378/.544 with 13 homers, 30 total extra-base hits, and a
25/48 K/BB ratio in 64 games prior to the call-up. Saunders projects as
a 20-homer hitter with a .275-.290 batting average, double-digit
steals, and solid defense, but he’s not a mixed-league option yet.

* John Smoltz was regularly clocked at 91-93 miles per hour with his
fastball and showed a good slider while getting six strikeouts in five
innings Sunday, but once again struggled by allowing six runs on nine
hits. Lack of fastball command has really hurt Smoltz and he certainly
hasn’t looked great through six starts, but with a 28/5 K/BB ratio in
30.2 innings his 1-3 record and 7.03 ERA are misleading.

* While making absolutely zero promises regarding the ratio of fantasy insight to inane rambling, I’m now on Twitter
and have quickly become addicted to posting stuff throughout the day.
Whether you’re interested in reading the minutiae of my life, my
complaints about the Twins, or half of random conversations I’m having
with people you likely don’t know, come check out @aarongleeman on Twitter!

AL Quick Hits: Justin Morneau went deep twice Sunday, and now
leads the AL in homers and RBIs … With their efforts to acquire Roy
Halladay stalled the Phillies have been scouting Cliff Lee, who threw
seven innings of two-run ball Sunday for his seventh win … With the Red
Sox facing a right-hander Sunday, Mike Lowell was benched in favor of
Adam LaRoche … Bartolo Colon will stay in the rotation and start
Wednesday, with Jose Contreras pushed to Thursday … Cleveland got
reliever Jess Todd from St. Louis to complete the Mark DeRosa trade …
Already battling the flu, Kevin Millwood left Sunday’s start with a
strained gluteus … Brett Cecil stayed on a roll Sunday with seven
frames of one-run ball … Tony Pena Jr. will go to the low minors to
work on becoming a pitcher after posting a .548 OPS as a “hitter” …
Cleveland turned down Boston’s offer of Michael Bowden, Justin
Masterson, and an unnamed outfield prospect for Victor Martinez.

NL Quick Hits: Geovany Soto (oblique) is slated to take batting
practice Monday and could return as soon as next week … Max Scherzer
shut out the Pirates for seven innings Sunday, striking out eight
without a walk … Because of setbacks, Chris Young (shoulder) isn’t
expected to return until September, if at all … Micah Owings exited
Sunday’s start after three innings with shoulder soreness … Dmitri
Young’s comeback officially ended with a torn quadriceps … Joe Blanton
tossed eight innings of two-run ball Sunday and is 7-2 with a 3.21 ERA
and 82/27 K/BB in 15 starts since an ugly April … Still bothered by a
sore hand, Manny Ramirez sat out Sunday’s game … Chad Gaudin stayed on
a roll Sunday by allowing one run over seven innings in a no-decision …
John Lannan cut his ERA to 3.25 after giving up one run in eight
innings Sunday … Colby Ramus was out of the lineup Sunday and will have
his sore heel examined Monday … Derrek Lee missed his second straight
game Sunday with back spasms, giving Jake Fox the start.

Darvish wins 1st start since 2014 as Rangers top Pirates 5-2

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Yu Darvish struck out seven in five strong innings in his first start in the majors in almost 22 months, and the Texas Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Saturday night.

The Japanese right-hander allowed three singles with a walk in his return from last year’s Tommy John surgery, ending Pittsburgh’s five-game winning streak.

Adrian Beltre had a two-run homer in the first inning off Juan Nicasio (3-3) to become the fourth third baseman with at least 1,500 RBIs, finishing with 1,501.

Mitch Moreland snapped a 1-for-27 skid with a solo home run in the fourth.

Four Texas relievers allowed four hits and a run with four strikeouts in four innings.

The “Yuuu” calls from a sellout crowd started early for Darvish, who last pitched in the big leagues on Aug. 9, 2014. He missed the rest of that season with right elbow inflammation, and ended up needing ligament reconstruction surgery after his only spring training appearance last year.

Darvish (1-0) had a 0.90 ERA in five rehab starts this month, culminating with an 87-pitch outing. He threw 81 against the Pirates, hitting 98 mph with his fastball in the first inning and displaying his usual array of breaking pitches, some as slow as 70 mph.

John Jaso had a leadoff single on Darvish’s second pitch before Andrew McCutchen struck out. The Pirates didn’t get another hit until Francisco Cervelli‘s sinking liner in front of rookie right fielder Nomar Mazara in the fifth.

No. 9 hitter Cole Figueroa ended Darvish’s shutout bid by pulling a hanging slider into right-center field for a single that scored Cervelli from second. Darvish then struck out Jaso for the second time to finish his outing.

Beltre’s homer just cleared the wall in center field after Prince Fielder‘s RBI groundout to score leadoff hitter Jurickson Profar, who had two hits filling in for suspended second baseman Rougned Odor. It was the second game of Odor’s seven-game ban.

SHORT HOPS

Joey Gallo, who had just one at-bat in his five-day stint, was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to make room on the roster for Darvish. … Pirates lefty reliever Tony Watson came off the paternity list and pitched a perfect eighth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: Manager Clint Hurdle planned to give 2B Josh Harrison the night off after he came out of the series opener early. He’s been battling an illness that kept him out of the lineup Thursday as well.

Rangers: C Robinson Chirinos is expected to start a rehab assignment Tuesday with Double-A Frisco. He’s been out since April 10 with a broken right forearm and could be activated as soon as he is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 9.

UP NEXT

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-3, 4.30) has won his last four starts against the Rangers and is 5-1 with a save and a 2.89 ERA in nine career games against them, most of those with Minnesota. His last appearance against Texas was Sept. 10, 2013.

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-4, 3.13) makes his team-high 11th start and has gone 2-2 with a 2.23 ERA in his past six starts. He threw six shutout innings in a 4-1 win over the Angels in his last start

Utley answers with slam, solo HR as Dodgers rout Mets 9-1

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NEW YORK (AP) After the New York Mets missed, Chase Utley connected twice.

Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing New York 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch – which certainly appeared to be his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year’s playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers’ bench to keep teammates calm – and later responded by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

“I think a loud, energizing environment gets the best out of you. I think it’s fun,” said Utley, who has 19 RBIs this season, nine in the first two games of this series. “It kind of gets the adrenaline going a little bit, makes you kind of dig down deeper.”

Asked if he thought Syndergaard delivered a purpose pitch, Utley said: “Possibly, but I understand it.”

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets’ 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Howie Kendrick and Corey Seager also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that hit him on the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings. The right-hander yielded two hits, both singles in the first, and stopped his three-game losing streak.

“Pretty impressive. You wouldn’t see too many other pitches staying in the game at that point,” Utley said.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets – and their fans – were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night; Utley played all four games without incident May 9-12 when the teams split a series in Los Angeles.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

“The ruling was that he intentionally threw at the batter,” crew chief Tom Hallion told a pool reporter. “We can either warn or eject. And with what happened in that situation, we felt the ejection was warranted.”

Hallion said no warnings were issued before the series.

“We take each game individually,” he said when asked if last year’s playoff series played a role in the ejection. “We have to make a snap decision. We can’t think about, OK, well this guy did this or he did that in Game 6 of whatever. We don’t have enough time to think that way. We make a decision on what happens in the game.”

Collins said he had never before seen a pitcher get ejected without a warning.

“My argument was, nobody got hit,” Collins said. “There was a time when, in this game, where you had a shot and nothing happened, the ball went to the backstop. So that was kind of my argument.”

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

“It was just a pitch that got away from me. That’s all I got,” Syndergaard said. “I can understand why he did what he did. I still think a warning would have been better.”

Collins acknowledged he’s a little concerned Syndergaard might get suspended.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett’s first pitch of the sixth for a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, making it 6-0 with his 38th homer against the Mets.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

“We came together as a group,” Utley said. “We battled, and it was a good win.”

WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts vs. the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May – including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Mets’ Syndergaard ejected after throwing behind Utley

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NEW YORK — In a scene that has seemed inevitable since October, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been ejected for throwing a 99 mph fastball behind Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since his late takeout slide in last year’s playoffs broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.

New York was incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules on slides at bases this season. But the Mets had not attempted to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman’s back by a considerable margin.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting irate Mets manager Terry Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected.

Indians’ Brantley unsure of return from shoulder injury

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CLEVELAND — Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has no timetable for his return from the shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the second time this season.

Brantley spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 14. He began the season on the DL following surgery for a torn right labrum in November. Brantley hit .231 with seven RBIs in 11 games before being shut down again.

“I wasn’t bouncing back quick enough to keep playing back-to-back games, which is very important,” he said. “I want to be healthy each and every day and I have to play at a high level. This is the major leagues. You have to be at the best of your ability and the highest health-wise you can be.”

Brantley, who received an anti-inflammatory shot in the shoulder two weeks ago, doesn’t think he returned from the surgery too soon.

“I was ready,” he said. “We talked about it. We had a great process laid out. Everything went smoothly. It was just a bump in the road.”

Brantley has been hitting off a tee but isn’t sure when he will begin taking swings in the batting cage. He is playing catch since he throws left-handed but wants to be cautious about resuming a hitting program.

“Surgery is nothing to play with,” he said. “You have to be smart and understand your body.”

Brantley visited Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed the surgery, in Wilmington, Delaware after he returned to the DL. An MRI showed no changes in the shoulder.

“He said everything checks out good, just make sure to take your time and we’ll see what happens from there,” Brantley said.

Brantley finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2014 when he hit .327 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs. He batted .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs last season.