Daily Dose: Brawling in Boston

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Junichi Tazawa’s first big-league start turned out to be a wild one Tuesday night, as his plunking Miguel Cabrera in the first inning led to a bench-clearing incident when Kevin Youkilis charged the mound after being hit in the next inning by Rick Porcello. Cabrera left with a hand contusion, Youkilis and Porcello were ejected, and Mike Lowell homered twice after replacing Youkilis as the Red Sox won.
Tazawa got the victory for allowing one earned run and two unearned runs in five innings, totaling six strikeouts compared to just two walks and one extra-base hit on the same day that John Smoltz reportedly cleared waivers. However, his time in the rotation could be limited with Tim Wakefield slated to make a rehab start Saturday at Triple-A, so Tazawa’s value is limited to deeper AL-only leagues.
While everyone awaits their suspensions and the Tigers hope that Cabrera isn’t seriously injured, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Jhoulys Chacin pitched well in four relief outings after a surprise call-up three weeks ago, striking out nine hitters in five innings, but struggled Tuesday night in his first start. He failed to make it out of the third inning, walking six and allowing four runs on just one hit. His control has been fine in the minors, but it’s certainly not shocking that a 21-year-old who skipped Double-A would have some issues.
* Nick Blackburn’s implosion continued Tuesday, as he gave up six runs before being chased in the second inning. Blackburn had a sub-3.00 ERA as recently as mid-July, but his horrendous strikeout rate always predicted a trip back down to earth and sure enough he’s coughed up 29 runs in 30.1 innings since then. He’s still a capable mid-rotation starter, but there just isn’t much long-term upside.
* Scott Rolen went on the disabled list Tuesday with post-concussion symptoms, which stem from being beaned by a Jason Marquis pitch last week. Rolen is due back in a couple weeks and in the meantime Adam Rosales will continue to fill in at third base. Rosales has hit just .219 so far, but put up a decent .299/.353/.490 line with 16 homers, 62 extra-base hits, and 11 steals in 147 games at Triple-A.
* Ervin Santana entered Tuesday having given up at least four runs in all but one of his eight starts since coming off the disabled list in early July. He tossed eight innings of one-run ball against Oakland on July 16, yet still had a 6.98 ERA over 39 innings during that span. That is until hurling a complete-game shutout versus the Rays, allowing just three hits while recording 27 outs on 97 pitches.
AL Quick Hits: Ian Kinsler (hamstring) is slated to begin a rehab stint Wednesday at Double-A … Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) tossed a 40-pitch bullpen session Tuesday and reported no problems … Jake Westbrook (elbow) will be shut down for six weeks following a visit with Dr. Lewis Yocum … Dallas Braden (foot) was unable to throw a side session Tuesday … Troy Percival said Tuesday that he’s retiring “unless something miraculous happens” … Akinori Iwamura (knee) is set to start a rehab assignment Friday at Triple-A … Koij Uehara (elbow) will start a throwing program Wednesday with an eye toward returning in September … J.P. Ricciardi said Tuesday that Shaun Marcum likely won’t come back from Tommy John surgery this season … Justin Speier is still owed $5.25 million for 2010, but the Angels released him Monday after two disappointing seasons … Cleveland sent Josh Barfield outright to Triple-A after the ex-top prospect cleared waivers.
NL Quick Hits: Adrian Gonzalez had hits in all six of his at-bats Tuesday, raising his batting average 11 points in one night … After missing two weeks with back soreness, Roy Oswalt gave up six runs in five innings Tuesday … Johnny Cueto is expected to make his next start despite leaving Monday’s game with some hip cramping … Jamie Moyer said Tuesday that he’s “disheartened” by Philadelphia moving him to the bullpen … Arizona pitching prospect Jarrod Parker will be shut down for the rest of the year with a strained elbow … Tommy Hanson had nine strikeouts and zero walks in 6.2 frames Tuesday, improving to 7-2 … Corey Hart (appendicitis) quit Tuesday’s workout after just eight minutes, explaining that “my body still hurts” … Rich Harden threw seven innings of two-run ball Tuesday and has allowed just eight runs in his last six starts … Jeff Weaver will get the nod on Wednesday in place of Chad Billingsley (hamstring).

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.