Daily Dose: Pedro out-duels Lincecum

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Pedro Martinez began Thursday’s start versus San Francisco by serving up a leadoff homer to light-hitting Eugenio Velez. And then he hurled seven scoreless innings to out-duel Tim Lincecum, striking out nine, walking none, and giving up just four more hits. It wasn’t quite vintage Pedro, but he was damn close while dropping his ERA to 3.52 ERA and improving to 3-0 with a 23/3 K/BB ratio in 23 innings.
Lincecum was no slouch himself, racking up 11 strikeouts while surrendering just two runs on four hits and one walk, but the story of the night was Pedro. San Francisco’s lineup is hardly imposing, but he set down 13 straight batters at one point, needed just 87 pitches to record 21 outs, and has now won all three of his starts that haven’t been shortened by rain, beating the Giants, Mets, and Cubs on the road.
While the Phillies improve to 38-17 in their last 55 games, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Colorado received some good news on Huston Street when an MRI exam revealed no structural damage in his injured biceps Thursday. Street remains unavailable for now, but barring a setback may be able to resume closing at some point next week. In the meantime, Franklin Morales will handle ninth-inning duties for the Rockies and is a must pickup in all formats.
* Jarrod Washburn revealed earlier this week that he’s been pitching through a knee injury for several months now, so manager Jim Leyland has decided to skip his next turn in the rotation after he posted a 6.81 ERA in six starts since being traded to the Tigers. Armando Galarraga is back up from Triple-A to fill in and doesn’t figure to be any better, but luckily Detroit has a nice cushion is the horrendous AL Central.
* Wade Davis will make his MLB debut Sunday against Detroit and the 24-year-old is someone to keep tabs on for 2010. Overshadowed somewhat by David Price of late, Davis remains one of baseball’s better MLB-ready pitching prospects after posting a 3.40 ERA and 140/60 K/BB ratio in 158.2 innings at Triple-A. He has a low-90s heat, good secondary stuff, and No. 2 starter upside. Worth an AL-only flier for now.
* I’ve become more or less addicted to Twitter in just a month and have been posting tons of stuff on there nearly every day, so if you’re interested in my various ramblings with some baseball-related stuff sprinkled in check out @aarongleeman.
AL Quick Hits: Jorge Posada went 4-for-5 and knocked in four runs Thursday as the Yankees roughed up Ricky Romero … Nate Robertson will stick in Detroit’s rotation after tossing six shutout innings Thursday … B.J. Upton left Thursday’s game with an ugly-looking ankle injury, but X-rays were negative … Mariano Rivera (groin) may be available as soon as Friday if his afternoon bullpen session goes smoothly … Josh Hamilton has been diagnosed with a pinched nerve in his neck … Chris Perez had three strikeouts over two perfect innings Thursday, giving him 19.2 straight scoreless frames … Because of workload issues Toronto has shut down Marc Rzepcynski for the remainder of the year … Tim Wakefield (back) threw a 25-pitch mound session Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s scheduled start … Carlos Torres shut out the Cubs for seven innings Thursday to pick up his first MLB win … Clay Buchholz won his third straight game and turned in his sixth Quality Start in seven tries Thursday.
NL Quick Hits: Derrek Lee has left the Cubs for the birth of his second child, so Jake Fox filled in at first base Thursday … Hanley Ramirez was out of the lineup Thursday with an injured hamstring that he classified as just 10 percent healthy … John Smoltz allowed four runs in six innings Thursday, but looked solid with six strikeouts versus zero walks … Alcides Escobar started at shortstop Thursday after sitting out for two games in favor of J.J. Hardy … Fresh off the disabled list, Dave Bush (triceps) said Thursday that he’s “still not feeling quite right” … Carlos Beltran (knee) played five innings of center field in Thursday’s rehab game at Single-A and is aiming to return next week … Nick Johnson came off the shelf Thursday after missing 18 days with a hamstring injury … Justin Upton was limited to pinch-hitting duties Thursday thanks to issues with his contact lenses and delivered a double off the bench.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.


MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.