Link-O-Rama: Alvarez powers Team USA in World Cup

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* Pirates prospect and 2008 first-round pick Pedro Alvarez smacked three homers yesterday as the United States blew out Chinese Taipei in the World Cup. Team USA is now 6-1 in the tournament, including 4-0 in the second round.
* Believe it or not the smallest gap in any division right now belongs to the AL Central, where the Tigers and their four-game lead begin a three-game series with the second-place Twins tonight.
* In addition to the Royals finally signing Aaron Crow another prominent holdout came to an end yesterday, as No. 44 overall pick Tanner Scheppers agreed to terms with the Rangers. He reportedly gets more than $1 million.
* Based on this data, Jerod Morris is probably sitting in his parents’ basement somewhere, smiling.
* My favorite television writer, Alan Sepinwall, is trying to come up with “similarity scores” for actors and actresses like the ones Bill James invented for baseball players.
* If you’re not following me on Twitter yet, you missed out on my mom’s analysis of Justin Morneau’s season-ending back injury.

Dave Dombrowski gives John Farrell a vote of confidence

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Earlier, we learned via Tuesday’s report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Red Sox manager John Farrell could find himself on the hot seat given the team’s slow start and a couple of incidents with Dustin Pedroia and Drew Pomeranz.

Tim Britton of the Providence Journal spoke to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who gave Farrell a vote of confidence. Dombrowski said, “We all have our pluses and minuses. But when I see some of the things we’ve talked about, I don’t know how you say that’s John Farrell’s fault. It’s not his fault that we’ve scuffled to pitch in the fifth spot with [Kyle] Kendrick and [Hector] Velazquez. The injury factors. Really in many ways, I tip my hat to our guys, led by John, that we’re in the position that we’re in right now. We’re three and a half out on May 24. There’s a long time to go. We haven’t gotten buried.”

Dombrowski added, “He’s our manager. He’s done fine. If I didn’t think that, then he wouldn’t be in his role.”

Farrell is signed through 2018 as the Red Sox exercised his ’18 option in December. That doesn’t mean the Red Sox can’t let him go, but given the lack of realistic options to step in and fill Farrell’s shoes and Dombrowski’s vote of confidence, it looks like the skipper has job security for now.

Jacoby Ellsbury diagnosed with concussion, neck sprain after leaving game

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The Yankees announced that Jacoby Ellsbury left the game with a concussion and a neck sprain after making a great catch, crashing into the center field wall at Yankee Stadium to snag an Alcides Escobar fly ball for the first out of the first inning Wednesday night against the Royals.

Ellsbury was shaken up after the play, requiring the attention of manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue.

Ellsbury initially stayed in the game and finished the top of the first inning. However, Aaron Hicks replaced Ellsbury in center field to start the top of the second inning. Ellsbury was batting sixth and did not have an at-bat prior to exiting.