Quick hits: Smoltz to miss next start

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– John Smoltz will miss his next start with right shoulder tendinitis.
The 42-year-old already received a cortisone shot to ease the pain and
expects to be ready for a start against the Cubs next Saturday. In four
starts since signing with the Cardinals, Smoltz is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA,
0.91 WHIP and 28/1 K/BB ratio in 22 innings. Todd Wellemeyer will take
his turn in the rotation against the Marlins on Monday.

– Brian Matusz was brilliant on Saturday, allowing just one run over seven innings in a 7-3 win over the Yankees.
The 22-year-old southpaw held the Bombers to just four hits, while
striking out three and walking two. The rookie seems to keep getting
stronger, having pitched seven innings in each of his last three
starts. Now with 157 2/3 innings under his belt in his first
professional season, it would be wise to shut the kid down on a
positive note. Because he has pitched just 44 2/3 innings over his
eight starts with the Orioles, Matusz would still be eligible for the
American League Rookie of the Year award in 2010.

From failing to sign first-round pick Matthew Purke to rumors that the
Rangers would bench struggling pitcher Kevin Millwood so that his $12
million for 2010 wouldn’t vest, Rangers owner Tom Hicks
said on Saturday that the team is continuing to conduct business as usual, even though the club asked Major League Baseball for a $15 million line of credit earlier this summer.

– Randy Johnson is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Monday with eyes on a return during the Rockies series.
Johnson, who earned his 300th career victory in June, hasn’t appeared
in a game since separating his shoulder in July. He isn’t likely to
return as a starting pitcher.

Kris Bryant wants to be Cubs’ player rep, vows to “fight” for next collective bargaining agreement

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Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.

While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”

As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”

It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.