Jordan Zimmermann set for first rehab start Saturday

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Every Nationals fan will have their eyes glued to Stephen Strasburg’s start against the Mets on Saturday afternoon, but they’ll also be interested to hear how Jordan Zimmermann fares in his first major league rehab start with Single-A Potomac.

Zimmermann is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery last August. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that the 24-year-old right-hander is slated to either two innings or 35 pitches.

“He’s been ahead of schedule, really, the whole time,” Rizzo said. “I’ve
had to pull him back a little bit and pull the reins in a little bit,
which makes him unhappy at times because he wants to go at 100 miles per
hour all the time. But that’s a good thing. We’re satisfied with where
he’s at, and we’re hoping there’s no hiccups or setbacks. If there’s
not, we’ll expect to see him back here sometime in 2010.”

It could be sooner than you think. Kilgore writes that he could be back by the end of July.

Zimmermann was 3-5 with a 4.63 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 16 starts with the Nationals last season, posting an impressive 92/29 K/BB ratio over 91 1/3 innings as a rookie. Speaking nothing of my personal fandom, I’d like nothing more than to see him bounce back and be a fine No. 2 to Strasburg for years to come.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.