Ailing Sizemore finally calls it a year

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It was just a matter of when Grady Sizemore would undergo surgery on the elbow that’s bothered him for months. He’d indicated that he intended to finish the year and then undergo the procedure, and he likely would have followed through on that had the Indians been in contention. Of course, that hasn’t been the case for months.
As a result, he’s opted to shut it down now, even though he’s coming off his best month of the season. He hit .299/.385/.486 with four homers and 23 runs scored in 26 games during August. Overall, he was batting .248/.343/.445 in 436 at-bats. Especially after factoring in defense, he’s still been a fine regular for the Indians. However, he was down 70 points from his career OPS.
Replacing Sizemore will be Michael Brantley and Trevor Crowe. Brantley, as the better defensive center fielder, may have the edge when it comes to playing time, even after Crowe returns from his strained oblique. The 22-year-old Brantley, a product of the CC Sabathia trade with the Brewers, was a disappointment in Triple-A this year, coming in at .267/.350/.361 in 457 at-bats. However, he walked more often than he struck out (48/59 K/BB ratio) and he stole 46 bases in 51 attempts.
Crowe hit .297/.401/.400 in 185 at-bats for Columbus. He’s at .208/.271/.283 in 106 at-bats for the Indians. He’s three years older than Brantley, and the Indians really do need to find out whether he should be in their plans as more than a fourth outfielder going forward. He might be a reserve on next year’s club, particularly if Matt LaPorta remains primarily a left fielder. Brantley is too young for such a role and could well find himself beginning a second straight year in Triple-A in 2010.

Royals closer Kelvin Herrera leaves with forearm tightness

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The Royals are a game and a half out of the crazy AL Wild Card race — six games back of the Indians in the division — so they don’t have a huge margin for error. They got some bad news last night, though, that could have a major impact on their playoff hopes: closer Kelvin Herrera experienced tightness in his right forearm in the ninth inning of last night’s win, forcing him out of the game.

Herrera walked the bases loaded, then went to a 2-0 count on the next batter before leaving the game. That last pitch was a fastball that clocked in at 91 m.p.h., which is NOT a typical Kelvin Herrera fastball.  Herrera didn’t talk after the game but his teammate Sal Perez said that Herrera told him  “I’m tight. I don’t feel my forearm.”

Reporters left the clubhouse before an official diagnosis or prognosis could be delivered, so expect an update some time today. If Herrera is out the closer duties could fall to Scott Alexander or Brandon Maurer.

Albert Pujols sets the all-time record for home runs by a foreign-born player

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Albert Pujols had a big night last night, driving in four runs as the Angels beat the Rangers 10-1. Three of those runs came on a three-run homer. That was the 610th home run of Pujols’ career, snapping a tie for eighth on the all-time list with Sammy Sosa. It also made him baseball’s all-time leader for home runs by a player born outside the U.S.

Pujols was aware of the accomplishment, of course, and noted how honored he was after the game:

”It’s pretty special. Obviously, all the great players from the Dominican Republic, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, they’ve gone through the big leagues and to be able to accomplish something like this is very humbling.”

After Sosa, who is from the Dominican Republic, comes Rafael Palmeiro (569); Manny Ramirez (555); David Ortiz (541); Carlos Delgado (473); Jose Canseco (462); Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera (459).