Brewers lose catchers Gregg Zaun to surgery and Angel Salome to the outfield

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Milwaukee essentially lost a pair of catchers yesterday, with 39-year-old veteran Gregg Zaun deciding to undergo season-ending (and perhaps career-threatening) shoulder surgery and 24-year-old prospect Angel Salome requesting a move to the outfield.
Zaun has remained productive well past the point most catchers flame out, hitting .265 with a .743 OPS in 28 games this season while getting on base above a .340 clip for the seventh straight year, but he’ll be 40 before the start of next season and had modest arm strength even before the surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Zaun admitted yesterday that the Brewers would probably be smart to choose a $250,000 buyout over a $2.25 million on him for next year and said he’s uncertain about trying to play a 17th season. “I’d like to prove to myself that I can still play, so an injury won’t be the thing that ends my career.”
Salome was once considered the Brewers’ catcher of the future, but his hitting declined following a breakout 2008 season at Double-A and his defense was never considered a strong point. He also left the Triple-A team early this season for the birth of a child and later took an extended leave, telling the Brewers he was “struggling mentally” and “not mentally prepared to play.”
Now he’s a 5-foot-7 corner outfielder without much speed and with a .759 OPS in 87 games at Triple-A, and the Brewers have demoted him to Single-A to get comfortable at the new position. “Certainly, his path to the big leagues is a lot less cluttered as a catcher,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “But this is what he says he wants to do, so we’re going to give it a try and see what happens.”

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.