Daily Dose: Pirates sticking with Capps … for now

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Since beginning the season with five saves over six straight scoreless appearances Matt Capps has blown five saves in 26 chances while going 4-8 with a 6.61 ERA and .342 opponents’ batting average in 48 innings. Despite six straight months of brutal pitching by Capps general manager Neal Huntington said that the 25-year-old righty will remain the Pirates’ closer next year “barring some unforeseen circumstances.”
In other words, Huntington will spend the winter trying to coax a contender into giving up a decent prospect or two for Capps and if that proves unsuccessful thanks to his collapse or history of arm issues will hand him closer duties again next season in the hopes that he can recoup some value. If healthy Capps is a nice bet to bounce back thanks to a solid 45/17 K/BB ratio amid the overall struggles.
While the Pirates’ boss mentions Joel Hanrahan, Jesse Chavez, and Evan Meek as closing alternatives here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Josh Beckett was scratched from his Monday night start at the last minute because of back spasms. Michael Bowden took Beckett’s place against Toronto and allowed seven runs over three innings in his second career start. Beckett was slated to make his final start of the season Saturday, but Terry Francona said afterward that the Red Sox may have him skip that outing as well to make sure he’s ready for the playoffs.
While the Beckett injury threatens to complicate Boston’s postseason rotation plans, the Red Sox did receive some good news Monday when Jon Lester threw a bullpen session. Lester took a Melky Cabrera line drive off his knee Friday night and initially looked seriously injured, but reported no problems during his regular mound session and has been cleared to make his season finale Thursday against the Indians.
* Andy LaRoche hasn’t done a whole lot since the Dodgers traded him to the Pirates in the Manny Ramirez-Jason Bay deal last July, but had a monster afternoon against his former teammates Monday. LaRoche went 5-for-5 with two homers, two doubles, and six RBIs, giving him a .363 batting average and 11 RBIs in 11 games against the Dodgers compared to .222 with 77 RBIs in 244 games against everyone else.
* LaRoche’s offensive explosion wasn’t the only noteworthy aspect of the Pirates’ win over the Dodgers. Zach Duke took a shutout into the ninth inning before Juan Pierre tripled with one out and Chin-lung Hu scored him with a sacrifice fly. At that point he needed just one more out for his seventh career complete game and had thrown just 103 pitches, yet manager John Russell yanked him with a 10-run lead.
Asked afterward why he didn’t just let Duke get the final out, Russell said: “I wanted Zach to have a nice ovation from the fans. We wanted to give the fans an opportunity to appreciate what he did rather than the game just being over.” You know, because apparently the fans who stuck around for the end of an 11-1 game in franchise’s 17th straight losing season wouldn’t have cheered like hell when Duke got the final out.
AL Quick Hits: Matt Wieters remained hot Monday, going 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to a season-high .292 … Mike Lowell will be unavailable for three days after receiving an injection in his hip Monday, which he last had in July … Impending free agent Russell Branyan (back) is not expected to play again this year … John Danks allowed one run in his first career complete game Monday and is now 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA after going 12-9 with a 3.32 ERA last season … David DeJesus (flu) didn’t join the Royals on their season-ending road trip Monday after missing four straight games … Aaron Laffey took his fifth straight loss Monday despite turning in a Quality Start … Luke Hochevar was rocked for eight runs on a dozen hits Monday, falling to 7-12 with a 6.24 ERA … Chris Tillman has been shut down for the year after logging 164.2 innings between the minors and majors … Monday night’s Twins-Tigers game was rained out, so they’ll play a doubleheader Tuesday.
NL Quick Hits: Jair Jurrjens tossed seven shutout innings Monday and has now won four straight starts while allowing three total runs … Hiroki Kuroda coughed up seven runs Monday after going 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA over his last 10 starts … Cole Hamels dropped to 10-10 by giving up six runs in 6.2 innings Monday … Josh Johnson (flu) will start Tuesday after being scratched from his scheduled weekend outing … Ross Detwiler earned his first MLB victory Monday with six innings of one-run ball and will make one more start this weekend … Anibal Sanchez allowed only two hits over five innings Monday, but handed out a career-high eight walks … Miguel Tejada had four hits Monday and is batting .439 during his 15-game hitting streak … Vicente Padilla will work out of the Dodgers’ bullpen during the final week, but could still get a start in the postseason … Carlos Ruiz is hoping to rejoin the lineup Tuesday after deeming his injured wrist “80 percent” healthy.

Miami Police Department considers Yasiel Puig case closed

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig waits to bat during batting practice prior to a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

We have more details about Yasiel Puig‘s reported “brawl” at a bar in Miami. And while it’s a regrettable situation, it appears to be less serious than previously believed.

According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Major Delrish Moss of the Miami Police Department confirmed that Puig was involved in a fight with a bouncer. However, Moss described it more as a “scuffle” than a “brawl.” The Dodgers outfielder suffered injuries to his face, including a swollen left eye, while the bouncer was left with a “busted lip” among other minor facial injuries.

While the bouncer alleged that he was sucker-punched by Puig, Moss said that neither were interested in pressing charges. As a result, the Miami Police Department considers the case closed.

TMZ reported that the fight with the bouncer took place after Puig got into a physical altercation with his sister. However, Moss said that “no shoving was alleged” and that “to the best of our knowledge, the only physical altercation was between the bouncer and Puig.”

Major League Baseball is still expected to investigate the incident under their new domestic violence policy.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.