Fired now, but Fredi Gonzalez could be the Braves manager next year

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The first thing I thought when I read that the Marlins have fired Fredi Gonzalez is that he has to be the front runner to become the Braves’ manager after Bobby Cox retires at the end of the year.

Gonzalez was the Braves’ third base coach before taking the Florida job. Last winter, when it seemed like the Marlins were jerking Gonzalez around, Bobby Cox came out in his defense, saying that his job being in jeopardy was “the biggest surprise I’ve had all season,” and praising him as being
“knowledgeable, a great communicator, disciplines well . . .”

It seemed clear to me, anyway, that he was being groomed by Cox back in the day, and though Cox has denied that he’ll take any part in naming his replacement, you have to think that his recommendations will carry an awful lot of weight for a team that loves continuity in such matters.

But even if the Braves don’t hire him, you have to think someone will.  Like Joe Girardi before him, any many who Jeff Loria sees fit to fire probably has a lot to recommend about him. 

The Twins didn’t listen to CC Sabathia’s wishes concerning bunting

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Earlier this month, Yankees starter CC Sabathia jawed at the Red Sox after Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt. Sabathia fielded it fine, but threw the ball away for an error. After the game, he called Nunez’s bunt “weak” and said the Red Sox should “swing the bat.” Sabathia, of course, is not that limber these days. Along with being 37 years old, the lefty has also battled knee and hamstring issues this season.

The Twins apparently didn’t hear what Sabathia had to say about bunting. After Brian Dozier singled off of Sabathia to lead off the top of the first inning on Tuesday, Joe Mauer laid down a bunt on the third base side and reached safely. Jorge Polanco then laid down a bunt of his own, also on the third base side, and was initially ruled out, but after replay review was ruled safe to load the bases with no outs.

Fortunately for Sabathia, he was able to limit the damage, getting Eduardo Escobar to ground into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play and inducing an inning-ending ground out from Byron Buxton. It’ll be interesting, though, to see if the Twins continue to bunt against Sabathia throughout the night.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.