Daily Dose: Pena's unique season ends

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Carlos Pena’s strange season came to an end Monday when CC Sabathia broke two fingers on his left hand with a fastball in the first inning. Pena will miss the remaining four weeks after hitting .227/.356/.537 with 39 homers and 100 RBIs in 135 games, leaving him with the highest OPS in baseball history among players with a sub-.230 batting average. In fact, it isn’t even close.
On the strength of 39 homers, 25 doubles, and 87 walks Pena finishes with an .893 OPS. No one else has cracked even .830 while hitting under .230 and qualifying for the batting title, and Gene Tenace in 1978, Roy Cullenbine in 1947, and Pat Seerey in 1946 are the only guys to top .800. Pena also narrowly missed finishing with more homers (39) than singles (41), which is just Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire territory.
While the Rays turn to Willy Aybar to replace one of the AL’s most productive hitters, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin is getting a few games off this week after struggling recently, so Chris Carpenter took matters into his own hands Monday afternoon with a complete-game shutout versus the Brewers. Jody Gerut’s double in the fifth inning was the lone hit allowed by Carpenter, who needed just 99 pitches to record 27 outs and racked up double-digit strikeouts for the third time this season.
His first shutout since 2006 and 11th straight victory allowed Carpenter to pass Zack Greinke for MLB’s lowest ERA at 2.16 and he trails only teammate Adam Wainwright in wins with 16. Tim Lincecum once seemed like a lock for back-to-back Cy Youngs, but he’s now 13-5 with a 2.34 ERA and 233/55 K/BB ratio in 200 innings compared to Carpenter at 16-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 129/30 K/BB ratio in 167 frames.
* Jamie Moyer was bumped from the Phillies’ rotation for Pedro Martinez last month, but came up big when called upon to make a spot start Monday. J.A. Happ suffered a strained oblique muscle while taking batting practice over the weekend, so Moyer stepped in for him Monday afternoon and held the Astros to two runs over six innings before Chan Ho Park blew what would’ve been his first win as a starter since July.
AL Quick Hits: Josh Hamilton (back) will be sidelined until at least the weekend after receiving a second root-nerve injection Monday … Tim Wakefield (back) has been scratched from his Friday start and will likely be given the next two weeks off … Mark Buehrle threw seven innings of one-run ball Monday to win for the first time since his perfect game on July 23 … Zack Greinke will get some extra rest after throwing 125 pitches Saturday … Aaron Hill left Monday’s game after three innings when his wife went into labor … CC Sabathia and Matt Garza got stuck with no-decisions Monday by matching each other with seven innings of one-run ball … Brett Gardner came off the shelf Monday and will resume splitting time with Melky Cabrera … Josh Beckett lost Monday, but turned in his first Quality Start since August 12 … Billy Butler went deep twice Monday and is hitting .300 with 59 extra-base hits … Jed Lowrie (wrist) returned from the disabled list Monday, but will be eased back into the lineup.
NL Quick Hits: Brad Penny tossed seven innings of two-run ball Monday, making him 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA for the Giants … Carlos Marmol is now 6-for-6 converting saves since taking over at closer following Monday’s perfect inning … Ryan Braun missed Monday’s game with a sore shoulder and Mike Cameron (hamstring) will be out until at least Friday, but Corey Hart (appendicitis) is due back Tuesday … Troy Tulowitzki exited Monday’s game with a strained back … Kyle Lohse came off the shelf Monday and is slated to start Saturday, but will be available in relief for now … Chris Young followed up Sunday’s three-homer game with another bomb Monday … Dave Bush figures to remain in the rotation after Monday’s outing was his first Quality Start since May 19 … Casey Blake (hamstring) sat out a third straight game Monday as Ronnie Belliard went 3-for-4 with a homer in his place … Freddy Sanchez returned from the disabled list Monday, so Juan Uribe shifted to third base and drove in five runs.

Sonny Gray was denied insurance coverage for the World Baseball Classic

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during photo day at HoHoKam Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.

According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.

Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.

While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.

Report: Josh Hamilton likely to undergo another knee surgery

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.

More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.

Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.