Pelfrey strives to become an "actual pitcher"

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Mike Pelfrey.jpgWednesday has been an incredibly busy day on the MLB news front, so much so that one of my favorite quotes of the afternoon got lost among the abundance of noise.

Here’s Mike Pelfrey, as quoted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, after allowing one run on four hits over four innings against the Red Sox on Wednesday:

“I think one day I’d like to become an actual pitcher.”

Though he was speaking in jest, there’s a real kernel of truth in there. The 26-year-old right-hander was recently told by pitching coach Dan Warthen to rely less on his sinker, his primary pitch. In turn, Pelfrey estimates than more than half of the 66 pitches he threw on Wednesday were his secondary offerings  — curveball, slider and splitter.

Of course, Pelfrey has long been praised for his sinker, but while the pitch was a real weapon for him in 2008, he turned in a negative run value with the pitch last season, according to Fangraphs.

Pelfrey was 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA last season, garnering the reputation as a headcase on the bump thanks to six balks, but it probably didn’t help that someone who induced groundballs 50.1 percent of the time had one of baseball’s worst defenses behind him. Thus, we shouldn’t be too surprised to see his batting average on balls (or BABIP) in play go up nearly 20 points to .321 and his strand rate fall to 66.7 percent.

Sure, I understand that news about pitchers tinkering with their arsenals is typical spring training fodder. I get that. I really do. But for a rotation in need of a reliable arm behind Johan Santana, the prospect of Pelfrey becoming less predictable to opposing batters just became an intriguing storyline to track this season. Still, nothing can save him from Luis Castillo patrolling second base.
   

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.