Damon, Yankees still a match

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As we covered yesterday, there are more outfielders available than jobs open at the moment. The odds of anyone stepping up and offering Johnny Damon the two-year, $20 million+ deal he expected at the beginning of the offseason fall somewhere in between slim and none. Cincinnati is the one team that has an obvious need for him in left field and at the top of the order, but there’s nothing to suggest that the Reds will bid. The Braves and Giants have alternatives and are short of cash. If there’s going to be a race for Damon’s services at any point over the next month, it seems likely to come down to the Yankees and Tigers.
The Tigers, though, have plenty of options. Carlos Guillen and Ryan Raburn are both available to play left field, so while Detroit wants a bat, a pure DH might work out just fine. Jim Thome could put about as many runs on the board as Damon and would come quite a bit cheaper.
On the other hand, the Yankees are pretty much down to one option if they want to further improve their team before Opening Day. They don’t need Damon — they’d surely score tons of runs without him — but he was a key piece in the 2009 World Series victory and it’s hard to believe that the team doesn’t have $6 million-$7 million laying around to throw at him. Damon is surely worth that much more than a possible Brett Gardner-Jamie Hoffman platoon, even if he would be a downgrade defensively.
It probably won’t happen this week or even before the end of the month, but Damon back to the Bronx is still the most likely scenario out there. Nothing else is even close.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”