No strife in Pittsburgh: John Russell, Neal Huntington got contract extensions

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On the heels of this morning’s business concerning John Russell and the Pirates comes a statement from team president Frank Coonelly that General Manager Neal Huntington and Russell each got contract extensions over the winter and thus all of this speculation about Russell being in trouble needs to stop:

As you know, we have respectfully declined to
discuss publically the contract status of our non-player personnel. 
While I continue to believe that internal understandings regarding
goals, expectations, standards, performance and progress towards meeting
those goals are far more productive than public votes of confidence or
public discussions about the years remaining on an employee’s contract,
it is clear that the desire to ascertain the number of years that remain
on our manager’s contract has become and will remain a distraction,
precisely the result we sought to avoid by declining to discuss such
matters.

As a result, while we have demonstrated in the
past that a contract will not prevent us from making a change if one is
appropriate and thus contract status truly is irrelevant, we will
confirm that during the off-season we exercised the Club’s 2011 option
on JR’s contract and added a fourth year (2011) to Neal’s contract.  We
did so because we believed that they were successfully implementing the
organization’s vision of building a baseball organization that could
compete for championships on a consistent basis.

So that’s that. I suppose I’ll know I’ve hit the big time when my reports cause team brass to issue refutations in press-release form like this.

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.”