Ordonez will be back in Detroit next season, making $18 million

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Magglio Ordonez had a terrible first half, hitting just .260/.330/.343 with four homers in 71 games, at which point there was speculation about whether the Tigers would keep him on the bench enough in the second half to guarantee that his playing time-based option for 2010 wouldn’t be triggered.
While he’s been far from an everyday player since then, Ordonez has played in 39 of 50 games since the All-Star break while hitting .336 and the Tigers have pulled away from the pack in the AL Central to all but wrap up the division title after finishing in last place a year ago. Ordonez now needs just 23 more plate appearances to trigger next season’s $18 million option.
As general manager Dave Dombrowski put it yesterday: “It all speaks for itself, what’s taking place at this point.” In other words, the Tigers obviously have no interest in paying $18 million for a 36-year-old corner outfielder with a .750 OPS, but Ordonez’s second-half turnaround and the team’s success made it tough to do anything about it. Not benching him has helped the Tigers go 27-23 in the second half while extending their division lead to 6.5 games.
On the other hand, given how awful the rest of the AL Central is this season the Tigers almost certainly could have won the division without Ordonez’s strong second half and shedding his $18 million salary for next year would have been awfully nice. It would’ve been interesting to see how the whole situation played out had Ordonez hit, say, .286 in the second half rather than .336.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.