UPDATE: Langosch notes that Vazquez wasn’t actually released, just designated for assignment. The Pirates now have 10 days to find a trade partner for him or grant him his release. He can also accept an assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis.
2:33pm: Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (and MLB.com’s Jen Langosch confirms) that the Pirates have released infielder Ramon Vazquez.
The 33-year-old strung together an ugly .176/.243/.176 batting line in 34 at-bats this spring with zero extra-base hits and seven strikeouts. He was thought to be in line for a utility infield spot this season, but the Bucs have opted to fill their bench with guys like outfielder John Raynor, and infielders Delwyn Young and Bobby Crosby.
Vazquez is a .254 career hitter with a 678 OPS and will have a difficult time finding a spot on a big league roster with Opening Night just hours away.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.
Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.
According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.
Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.
Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.
Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.
The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.