Brewers notes: Escobar, Hardy, and Davis

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Some follow-up notes on yesterday’s big shakeup in Milwaukee
* Called up to replace J.J. Hardy at shortstop, 22-year-old prospect Alcides Escobar is making his first career start this afternoon against the Padres. And he’s batting ninth, behind pitcher Manny Parra. Escobar doesn’t figure to be much of an offensive threat at this stage of his career, but he has outstanding speed and because of that my guess is manager Ken Macha likes the idea of a “second leadoff man” at the bottom of the order.
* Meanwhile, Dave Cameron of Fan Graphs notes that by sending Hardy to Triple-A the Brewers can delay his free agency. Prior to the move Hardy would’ve gone past five seasons of service time this year and been eligible for free agency following next season, but if he remains in the minors until September the Brewers would have him under their control through 2011. At this point Hardy staying in Milwaukee is unlikely, but the teams looking to trade for him would also love to get another season out of the deal.
* General manager Doug Melvin is apparently looking to make even more changes, because the Brewers claimed Doug Davis off waivers from the Diamondbacks, giving the two sides a chance to work on a potential trade. Davis pitched for the Brewers from 2003-2006 and said yesterday that “going back to Milwaukee would be fun … I know the fans would be behind me.” However, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that trading for Davis “seems unlikely.”

Jason Vargas fractured his non-pitching hand

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Mets left-hander Jason Vargas has a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, the team announced Sunday. Vargas sustained the injury after taking a comebacker off of his hand on Friday and is expected to consult with a hand specialist later today as the team settles on a course of action. Comments from GM Sandy Alderson indicate that surgery is a possibility, though the left-hander may also pitch through it for the time being.

Vargas, 35, signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the team last month. He completed a four-year run with the Royals in 2017, earning his first career All-Star nomination with an 18-11 record in 32 starts and producing a 4.16 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 6.7 SO/9 over 179 2/3 innings. Prior to the incident, the southpaw was expected to help fill out the back end of the Mets’ Opening Day rotation.

Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News estimates that Vargas will likely miss the start of the season as he faces a two- to six-week recovery period. It’s a disappointing turn of events for a pitching staff that has been absolutely ravaged by injuries over the last couple of years.