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).

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.

Joe Nathan plans to pitch in 2016

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan throws against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”

Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.

Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.