Texas’ playoff chances took a big hit Wednesday, as Michael Young was diagnosed with a strained left hamstring that’s expected to sideline him at least two weeks. Not only does losing Young hurt because he’s hit .322/.376/.524 with 59 extra-base hits, the Rangers’ alternatives at third base are underwhelming. Chris Davis got the start Wednesday, with Hank Blalock at first base and Julio Borbon at designated hitter.
However, manager Ron Washington indicated that he’d prefer to leave Davis at first base while playing Omar Vizquel or Esteban German at third base most of the time. Davis will be in the lineup one way or another and has gone 11-for-35 (.314) with two homers, nine RBIs, and “only” 10 strikeouts in nine games since returning from the minors. Aside from a little speed, Vizquel and German are without fantasy upside.
While the Rangers try to stay in the playoff picture without their most valuable player, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Brad Penny followed in John Smoltz’s footsteps by getting released by the Red Sox after flopping in Boston and then fleeing back to the NL. He stayed down the Smoltz path Wednesday with eight shutout innings in his Giants debut. Penny had been 0-4 with a 9.11 ERA in his last five starts, so at first glance he looks just the latest guy to thrive in the NL after struggling in the AL, but he beat the defending champs in Philly.
* Scott Kazmir was sharp in his Angels debut Wednesday, allowing two runs over 6.1 innings while striking out eight and walking just one. He retired 18 batters in a row at one point, and showed good velocity and control, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a loss because Felix Hernandez tossed eight shutout innings. King Felix tied a career-high with his 14th win and sliced his ERA to 2.65, which trails only Zack Greinke at 2.32.
* Florida’s double-play combo “openly argued” in the clubhouse Wednesday as Dan Uggla accused Hanley Ramirez of not caring about the team enough to play through injuries because of his $70 million contract. Meanwhile, not only is Ramirez hitting a league-high .355 while leading the team in RBIs, runs, steals, and OPS, he’s played 124 of 133 games despite battling various leg injuries all year. Uggla should shut up.
AL Quick Hits: Adam Jones could miss the remainder of the season with a sprained ankle suffered Tuesday, leaving Felix Pie to man center field … Mariano Rivera was unavailable Wednesday because of a strained groin … Josh Beckett struggled again Wednesday and has now served up 14 homers in his last five starts … Joe Nathan wasted Brian Duensing’s seven scoreless innings Wednesday by serving up multiple homers for the first time in six seasons … Brett Gardner (thumb) is slated to begin a rehab stint Thursday at Triple-A … Rick Porcello needed just 80 pitches to record 21 outs Wednesday, giving up two runs … CC Sabathia became the AL’s first 16-game winner Wednesday by allowing one run over seven innings … Brian Bannister exited Wednesday’s start in the second inning due to shoulder fatigue … Josh Hamilton left Wednesday’s game with lower back soreness … Ian Kennedy threw batting practice Wednesday for the first time since undergoing May surgery for an arm aneurysm.
NL Quick Hits: Stud catching prospect Buster Posey joined the Giants for the stretch run Wednesday, but likely won’t see a ton of starts … Ubaldo Jimenez turned in his 11th straight Quality Start with eight innings of two-run ball Wednesday … Ted Lilly and Carlos Marmol combined on a five-hit shutout Wednesday … Miguel Tejada was hitless Wednesday to drop his batting average below .300 for the first time since May 8 … Chris Carpenter won his 10th straight game Wednesday, improving to 15-3 with an NL-best 2.28 ERA … Carlos Beltran (knee) went 1-for-3 with a walk in a rehab game Wednesday at Single-A … Tony La Russa said Wednesday that impending free agent Troy Glaus is unlikely to see much playing time down the stretch … Corey Hart (appendicitis) is slated to start a rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A … Neil Walker went 0-for-4 with an error Wednesday in his first MLB start … Jason Giambi knocked in the go-ahead run Wednesday for his first Rockies hit.
The 2016-18 All-Star Games are spoken for, but the Cubs could play host not long thereafter according to commissioner Rob Manfred, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports.
The Padres are hosting at Petco Park this year, the Marlins will host at Marlins Park next season, and the Nationals will host in 2018 at Nationals Park. That will make four consecutive National League hosts and five if the Cubs get it in 2019. In the past, the National and American Leagues have alternated hosting privileges. That is sort of important now since the league that wins the All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series.
The Cubs last hosted the All-Star Game in 1990 and have hosted a total of three times (1962 and 1947 being the other years) since its inception in 1933.
Wrigley Field has been undergoing renovations which are expected to be completed by the 2019 season. Manfred said that the Cubs hosting the All-Star Game “will provide the Cubs and Ricketts family a chance to showcase the unbelievable renovation they are in the midst of doing for Wrigley field.”
Update: Here’s a table showing the last time each team hosted the All-Star Game.
||Olympic Stadium (Expos)
||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
||Jack Murphy Stadium
||Oriole Park at Camden Yards
||The Ballpark in Arlington
||U.S. Cellular Field
||Minute Maid Park
||Angels Stadium of Anaheim
||Great American Ball Park
Expect Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation this spring, writes Gordon Wittenmyer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Clayton Richard could serve as a fallback option as well.
Hendricks, 26, pitched well in his first full season in 2015. He finished with a 3.95 ERA and a 167/43 K/BB ratio over 180 innings. That was a solid follow-up to his rookie campaign in 2014, when he posted a 2.46 ERA over 13 starts.
The Cubs acquired Warren, 28, from the Yankees in the Starlin Castro trade. He contributed both out of the rotation and the bullpen in the Bronx this past season, pitching 131 1/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a 104/39 K/BB ratio.
One through four, the Cubs’ rotation is solid with defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel.
Mets third baseman David Wright missed four months of the 2015 season due to spinal stenosis. In other words, Wright dealt with a narrowing of his spinal column. Going forward, the Mets plan to be cautious with Wright so as not to overuse him.
As ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports, Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to have the 33-year-old Wright play in no more than 130 games. Alderson said, “We’re gonna make sure that he’s not overworked. So it’s important for us to find somebody who can play 30 games or so at third base when he’s not in there. But I think we have to be realistic, and not expect that he’s gonna be an absolute everyday [player] out there playing 150 or 155 games. That’s not gonna happen.”
Wilmer Flores played 26 games at third base in his rookie season in 2013, so he could back up Wright as needed. But Alderson mentioned that because Wright would mostly sit against right-handed pitchers, the switch-hitting Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera could get the call at the hot corner.
When he was on the field last season, Wright hit a productive .289/.379/.434 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 174 plate appearances.
The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.
This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.