Daily Dose: Pedro wins Phillies debut

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Pedro Martinez was victorious in his Phillies debut Wednesday against the Cubs, allowing three runs in five innings. Martinez struck out five and walked one while giving up seven hits and showed pretty decent velocity while regularly getting his fastball into the low-90s. He certainly wasn’t great, but it was a solid outing given that he hadn’t faced big-league hitters in 10 months.
At this point in his career Martinez’s upside is limited, but his amazing changeup is still dangerous even when combined with a high-80s or low-90s heater and his ability to miss bats remains relatively intact. He seems unlikely to be much of an asset in mixed leagues, but if career win No. 215 is any indication he’ll have nice value in NL-only leagues down the stretch.
While the Phillies’ decision to dump Jamie Moyer for Martinez pays dividends for one night at least, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Erik Bedard’s season and perhaps Mariners career came to an end Wednesday with news that he’ll undergo exploratory surgery on his ailing left shoulder. As an impending free agent Bedard’s future depends entirely on what Dr. Lewis Yocum discovers during the procedure and there’s little chance of Seattle re-signing him either way. They got a total of 11 wins for all those players and all that money.
* Tuesday night’s bean-balling, benches-clearing drama in Boston earned Kevin Youkilis and Rick Porcello matching five-game suspensions and neither player is appealing, so the clocks started ticking immediately. Youkilis will miss 10 percent of the Red Sox’s remaining schedule, while Porcello will just make his next start one day later. At least Mike Lowell homered again in Youkilis’ place Wednesday.
* Ubaldo Jimenez shut out the Pirates for eight innings Wednesday to pick up his 10th win and has another favorable matchup versus the Nationals next week. He went 1-3 with a 7.58 ERA in April, but Jimenez has a 2.91 ERA and 121/46 K/BB ratio in 139.1 innings since. Now that his control is merely bad rather than awful, the man with the hardest fastball of any MLB starter is capable of really thriving.
* John Smoltz refused an assignment to the minors Wednesday and told the Red Sox that he’s not interested in pitching out of their bullpen, so he’ll either be dealt or released shortly. Whether he’s willing to be a reliever for a different team isn’t clear, but Smoltz has given no indication that he plans to retire and there’s plenty of speculation about who might still be interested in giving him one last chance.
AL Quick Hits: Mariano Rivera was unavailable Wednesday because of shoulder soreness … Tommy Hunter tossed seven shutout innings Wednesday, slicing his ERA to 2.29 … Josh Beckett got his MLB-leading 14th win with seven innings of two-run ball Wednesday … Mike Scioscia said Wednesday that Kelvim Escobar (shoulder) is unlikely to pitch again this season … Joe Crede (shoulder) rejoined the lineup by going 3-for-3 with a three-run homer Wednesday … Oakland asked Justin Duchscherer (elbow) to make one more rehab start … Trevor Bell debuted by allowing four runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings Wednesday … Francisco Liriano had his best start of the season Wednesday, allowing just an early solo homer in seven innings … Armando Galarraga was scratched from Wednesday’s start with a sore throat and fever … Derek Jeter left Wednesday’s game after being hit on the foot, but X-rays were negative.
NL Quick Hits: Out since July 23 with a calf strain, Lance Berkman rejoined the lineup with two doubles and two walks Wednesday … Ricky Nolasco was rocked for 10 runs in 3.1 innings Wednesday … As expected, Jordan Zimmermann will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery next week … Jhoulys Chacin was demoted to Triple-A after struggling in his first career start Tuesday … Tim Lincecum gave up two runs in 8.2 innings Wednesday, but got stuck with a no-decision … Adam LaRoche homered twice and drew a bases-loaded walk Wednesday … Russell Martin made his season debut at third base Wednesday … Hunter Pence went deep twice and knocked in a career-high six runs Wednesday … Homer Bailey left Wednesday’s game after being hit on the foot by Albert Pujols’ line drive, but X-rays were negative … Ted Lilly (knee, shoulder) tossed five shutout innings in a rehab start Wednesday at Single-A.

The Mets are among six teams that help Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 19:  A detailed view of the blackboard with theoretical physics equations in chalk by Alberto Ramos, Theoretical Physics Fellow and visitor, Antonio Gonzalez-Arroyo from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (both not in frame) at The European Organization for Nuclear Research commonly know as CERN on April 19, 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.

Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.

Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”

Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.

Video: Albert Pujols hits 569th career home run, tying Rafael Palmeiro

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 22:  Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 22, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
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Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.

Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.

Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.

Alex Gordon to miss three to four weeks with a fractured scaphoid bone

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 22:  Alex Gordon #4 and Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals collide going for a foul ball against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on May 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Royals 3-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.

Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.

Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.

The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.

Orioles trade reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 17:  Brian Matusz #17 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the fifth inning on May 17, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.

Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.

MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.

Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.

Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.