Daily Dose: Sore hammy sidelines Young

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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.

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.

 

Justin Turner talks “Easy D”

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up prior to game six of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:

No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!

Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:

It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:

I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.

And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.