Despite Howry, D'Backs still keeping tabs on Valverde

Leave a comment

The Diamondbacks have reportedly
come to terms with veteran reliever Bob Howry, but it won’t preclude
them from continuing to monitor free agent right-hander Jose Valverde,
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports.



Valverde, 30, was originally signed
by the Diamondbacks in 1997 and posted a 3.29 ERA over five big league
seasons in the desert before being traded to the Astros in December of
2007. He tallied a 2.93 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 69 saves in Houston, but so
far the market for the Type A free agent has been slow to develop.

Contenders have likely balked at the price tag, but because the
Diamondbacks finished at 70-92 last season, their first-round pick in
the 2010 First-Year Player Draft is protected. They would have to
surrender a second-round pick should they sign Valverde.



While the possible addition of Valverde would give the Diamondbacks the
makings of lock-down bullpen, with Chad Qualls as the incumbent for ninth-inning duties, a reunion would only be possible on Arizona’s terms. Frankly,
they’d be better off allocating the salary towards the recently
non-tendered Kelly Johnson. They’ll be inching close to their budgetary
limits should he agree to the one-year, $2 million offer reportedly on
the table.

Yankees oust Aroldis Chapman from the closer’s role

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The writing was on the wall, but the Yankees made it official on Saturday: Aroldis Chapman is no longer closing games for the Bronx Bombers. Comments from manager Joe Girardi suggested that the move is a temporary one, however, and he told reporters that Chapman will be utilized at “different points” in the game as the Yankees try to pinpoint the source of the left-hander’s struggles.

There’s no question that the flame-throwing southpaw has been off his game for a while, and his season 4.29 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 12.6 SO/9 hints at some of the issues he’s been facing. He imploded in each of his last three appearances, issuing a cumulative five hits, six runs and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings. It seems plausible that the left rotator cuff inflammation that sidelined him several months ago has resurfaced, but the veteran lefty said Friday that he doesn’t believe any physical issues have caused his decline.

While Chapman works out the kinks in his mechanics, the Yankees will look to some combination of Dellin Betances and David Robertson to cover the ninth inning. Girardi wouldn’t commit to either reliever in the closer’s spot, however, and said he’d take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the match-ups in any given game. The long-term plan is still to reinstate Chapman, whenever that might make sense for the team.

“He’s been scuffling over the past 10 days, two weeks,” Girardi said. “I just thought for us to get him back on track, maybe the best way would be to move him around a little bit until he gets going. When we get him going like I believe he’ll get going, there’s a good chance I’ll put him right back in that closer’s role.”

Nationals activate Stephen Strasburg off the disabled list

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Nationals officially activated Stephen Strasburg off the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Saturday. They’ll pencil him into the starting lineup for their second set against the Padres on Saturday night. Strasburg is expected to assume Max Scherzer‘s roster spot after Scherzer landed on the disabled list with neck inflammation prior to Friday’s series opener. No other roster moves appear to be necessary for the time being.

Strasburg, 28, is finally looking stable after serving a 26-day stint on the DL with a right elbow nerve impingement. It’s the first serious injury he’s sustained since last August, when he missed 20 days with inflammation in his right elbow, and one the Nationals are taking seriously as they juggle multiple stints for their elite starters. He’ll enter Saturday’s competition with a 10-3 record in 20 starts, supplemented by a 3.25 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 through 121 2/3 innings.

Elbow issues are nothing to be played around with, but Strasburg’s performance in his lone rehab outing relieved any residual apprehension the Nats might have had about his activation this weekend. He tossed 66 pitches for High-A Potomac, hitting 95 MPH with his heater and logging three hits, one run, one walk and five strikeouts over five innings. Club manager Dusty Baker is hoping for a similarly dominant start against the Padres, and told reporters that he’ll hold Strasburg to a performance count as the righty works his way back to a full-time gig.