Daily Dose: Back scratches Lincecum

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Tim Lincecum was a last-minute scratch from his Tuesday night start with back pain, so the Giants called up top prospect Madison Bumgarner from Double-A to take his place versus the Padres. Bumgarner was a teenager until last month, but the former first-round pick was 9-1 with a 1.93 ERA at Double-A and handled himself pretty well against the NL’s lowest-scoring team, allowing two runs over 5.1 innings.
Bumgarner’s numbers as a pro as insanely good, with a 27-5 record and 1.65 ERA, but his 69/30 K/BB ratio in 107 innings at Double-A suggest that he’s not quite ready to dominate. He’s without question one of the top pitching prospects in baseball and the Giants obviously believed that he was ready for the challenge Tuesday night, but don’t count on the young southpaw being a fantasy asset until at least mid-2010.
While the Giants unveil their next stud starter and pray that Lincecum’s injury proves minor, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Charlie Manuel reiterated Tuesday afternoon that Brad Lidge will remain his closer despite an MLB-high 10 blown saves. And then Tuesday night he pulled Lidge in the middle of a save situation and brought in Ryan Madson to close out a 5-3 win. Lidge allowed a single and a walk, plunked a batter, and uncorked a wild pitch while getting just one out, at which point Madson got the call and cleaned up his mess.
* After sitting out since mid-June with a knee injury Carlos Beltran returned from the disabled list Tuesday and went 1-for-4 while narrowly missing a grand slam. Beltran deserves credit for working hard to make his way back for the final four weeks of the season despite the fact that his team is completely out of contention after going just 27-42 in his absence. If he looks healthy, Beltran should be undervalued for 2010.
* Alex Gordon returned to the majors Tuesday after batting .313/.435/.493 during his three-week demotion to Triple-A, which despite Kansas City’s claim that suppressing his service time wasn’t a factor was just long enough to delay his free agency for an extra year. Gordon is now under the Royals’ control through at least 2013, although he’ll need to turn things around to be of any use by then. He’s a nice buy-low target.
* Rotoworld’s whole baseball crew is now on Twitter, from Matthew Pouliot’s frequent updates during each night’s games to my mindless babble about things that have no fantasy baseball relevance whatsoever, so check us out:
Aaron Gleeman – @aarongleeman
Matthew Pouliot – @matthewpouliot
Drew Silva – @drewsilv
D.J. Short – @djshort
Nick Nelson – @nnelson9
Eddie Schmid – @edwinthethird
Thor Nystrom – @thorku
Evan Brunell – @immortalkid
Our current goal is to collectively get more followers than Gregg Rosenthal, because his incessant bragging around the office is becoming tough to take.
AL Quick Hits: Michael Young (hamstring) is hoping to rejoin the lineup by the end of the week after jogging Tuesday … Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) is due to make his final rehab start Wednesday at Single-A … Julio Borbon smacked a pair of homers Tuesday and also swiped his 13th base … Joe Crede (back) came off the disabled list Tuesday and should be the primary third baseman down the stretch … Fernando Rodney appealed his three-game suspension for throwing a ball into the press box last week … Jake Peavy (elbow) will toss a bullpen session Wednesday with an eye on joining the White Sox’s rotation next week … Wade Davis will stick in the rotation following an impressive debut, bumping Andy Sonnanstine … Dustin Pedroia had his first career multi-homer game Tuesday … Carlos Carrasco struggled again Tuesday, giving him a 12.38 ERA through two career starts … Francisco Liriano (elbow) threw a simulated game Tuesday and reported no problems, setting up a bullpen move.
NL Quick Hits: J.A. Happ will miss a second start because of his strained oblique, so Jamie Moyer will again fill in … Manny Parra left Tuesday’s start after just one inning because of neck spasms … Casey Blake (hamstring) sat out his fourth straight game Tuesday, with Ronnie Belliard starting at third base … Garrett Jones homered again Tuesday, giving the career minor leaguer 19 long balls in 235 at-bats … Corey Hart (appendicitis) returned from the disabled list Tuesday, but won’t rejoin the lineup until Wednesday … Fredi Gonzalez indicated Tuesday that Jeremy Hermida (oblique) is not expected back any time soon … Colby Rasmus sat out Tuesday’s game with the heel injury that has plagued him all season … Ken Macha said Tuesday that Casey McGehee will play more down the stretch than Mat Gamel … Raul Ibanez went deep twice Tuesday, totaling 30 homers for the second time … Reed Johnson (foot) is not expected to play again this year.

Miguel Cabrera has two herniated discs in his back

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Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera underwent an MRI which revealed two herniated discs in his back, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports. With six games remaining in the season, if Cabrera plays again, it will be as a designated hitter.

The back issues shed a lot of light on Cabrera’s uncharacteristically subpar season. He’s batting .249/.329/.399 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI in 529 plate appearances this season. He carries an adjusted OPS of 92, which is eight points below the league average and 14 points below his previous career low set in 2003 with the Marlins.

Cabrera, 34, is signed through 2023 and is owed a minimum of $192 million through the end of his contract.

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

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No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only by showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but by actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.