Andy Pettitte hopes to return ahead of schedule

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Andy Pettitte, who went on the disabled list Monday with a groin strain, played catch for about five minutes from 60 feet on Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

Diagnosed with Grade 1 strain, the veteran left-hander isn’t expected to return until mid-to-late August, however he told reporters Saturday that he doesn’t think that timetable is realistic. In a good way.

“It doesn’t seem realistic to me at all, but I haven’t gotten on the
mound,” Pettitte said. “When I get on the mound, I’ll be able to say,
and hopefully I won’t have any setbacks.” 

“I mean, I feel good,” Pettitte said. “I’m not having any problems at all.”

It’s not immediately clear when Pettitte will begin throwing off a mound, but he is scheduled to fly to Tampa on Monday to continue his rehab. The 37-year-old left-hander is eligible to return from the DL on August 2, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the team plans to take a cautious approach with Pettitte, as they don’t want this to be a recurring problem down the stretch.

Sergio Mitre, Pettitte’s temporary replacement in the rotation, gave up seven runs — five earned — over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Royals this afternoon.

Video: Bryce Harper crushes a home run to the Chase Field concourse

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Aaron Judge may be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget some of Major League Baseball’s more established sluggers. Take the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, for instance, who jumped on a full count during the first inning of Saturday’s game and postmarked the ball to the center field concourse in Chase Field.

Harper’s mammoth hit was the first career home run allowed by Diamondbacks’ rookie Anthony Banda. Banda quickly recovered with an inning-ending strikeout to Ryan Zimmerman, but was booted from his big league debut after Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon combined for a three-run spread in the sixth.

The first-inning homer also served another purpose: it extended Harper’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in MLB this season. He’ll need four more games to tie the 19-game streak Royals’ infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield established back in June.

The Nationals currently lead the Diamondbacks 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Chi Chi Gonzalez to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Rangers’ right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is slated for Tommy John surgery, according to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day disabled list back in early April with a partial UCL tear and was working towards a throwing program before getting sidelined with more elbow pain. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 season while recovering from the surgery.

This is the second straight season that has been derailed for Gonzalez due to injury. The 25-year-old starter pitched just 10 1/3 innings in 2016 after recovering from a torn UCL, and was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out the year after compiling an 8.71 ERA, 7.8 BB/9 and 6.1 SO/9 in three starts with the club. He showed more promise in Triple-A with a 4.70 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 5.9 SO/9 through 24 starts and 138 innings.

It’s a tough blow for the Rangers, who have seen Gonzalez healthy in just one major league season to date. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters that a recent MRI showed signs of weakening in the ligament, which disrupted the team’s plans to have the right-hander stick to a six- to eight-week recovery timetable after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection (via Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The surgery is expected to take place next week and will put Gonzalez’s earliest return date sometime in September 2018.