Link-O-Rama: Maybe the Giants can get a refund on Sanchez

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* Freddy Sanchez has missed 23 of 48 games since being traded to San Francisco, managing a measly .619 OPS when his shoulder was healthy enough for him to be in the lineup, and had to be helped off the field last night after twisting his left knee. Suddenly the decision to exercise his $8.1 million option for 2010 isn’t such a no-brainer for the Giants.
* Twins shortstop prospect Trevor Plouffe delivered a walk-off homer yesterday as the United States defeated Australia in the World Cup, giving them the top seed for the tournament’s final round. Also advancing to the eight-team final round are Venezuela, Cuba, Australia, Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
* The bad news is that Brett Tomko has been shut down for the season in the midst of his best pitching in years. The good news is that he finishes with an ERA below 4.00 for the first time since he was a 24-year-old rookie in 1997.
* Josh Hamilton is hoping to return from his back injury by the end of this week, but Michael Young may struggle to play again this season after testing his injured hamstring with some light jogging yesterday.
* In the wake of Cecil Cooper being fired as Astros manager yesterday, Tony La Russa reflected on his 14 years at the helm in St. Louis and indicated that he plans to return in 2010. La Russa is the second-longest-tenured manager in baseball behind Bobby Cox’s two decades in Atlanta.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.