Bobby Valentine downplays speculation about return to Mets

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BobbyV.jpgDuring an appearance on with Chris Russo on SIRIUS XM’s Mad Dog Radio Channel on Friday, Bobby Valentine addressed recent speculation that he could replace Jerry Manuel as manager of the Mets, via Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

“You know, the Mets are 3-6. It’s nine games,” Valentine said. “I mean,
let’s not get crazy here. I think Jerry, I talked to him a few times
during spring training. Jerry Manuel is up for the task. I think that he
has a tough road to hoe, there’s no doubt about it, and he’s got to
keep his head above water until his center fielder comes back, and
obviously has to get that pitching staff in shape. But I don’t see that
as being part of my future as we’re speaking here. … I’m a member of
ESPN Baseball Tonight. I’m happy to be there and I’m gonna enjoy talking
about that situation, not being talked about within that situation.”

I’ve heard Valentine get asked about a potential return to Queens dozens of times since 2002 and opposed to Gary Carter, he always answers in a diplomatic and classy way. I would expect nothing less, as he understands what it’s like to hear whispers while sitting in the manager’s office. I’ve advocated for Valentine in the past, but as Craig alluded to earlier today, Bob Melvin appears to be the in-house favorite.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

Video: Brett Gardner goes deep for his first and second home runs of 2017

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It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:

Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:

Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.