Chris Young hopes to return to Padres this season

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Remember Chris Young? He certainly hopes the San Diego Padres do.

Young, the 6-10 right-hander known as much for his injury struggles as his talent, threw 55 pitches over three innings in a simulated game on Thursday.

He is trying to work his way back from a shoulder injury, and says he’s focused on returning this season, not next. From the Associated Press:

“It’s definitely my goal, not just to pitch, but to be successful and win,” said Young, who’s had a serious injury for three straight seasons. “Certainly I’m not trying to get ahead of myself. There’s still some tests, but I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t my goal. It would be easy to shut it down and say I’ll strengthen it and worry about pitching later, but that’s not the case. I want to pitch, I want to win, I want to help this team make a strong run here. I feel if things keep going according to plan, I’m capable of that.”

Young has made just one start this season, pitching six scoreless innings against the Diamondbacks back on April 6. Over the last three seasons, he has made only 33 starts as he has struggled to stay healthy.

When able to pitch, Young – who was an All-Star in 2007 – is a solid talent (47-34, 3.84 ERA, 1.209 WHIP over his career).

The Padres, who would have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs if the season ended today, are already ruling the NL on the strength of their pitching and defense. They lead the league in ERA, WHIP and hits allowed, are second in strikeout/walk ration and third in strikeouts.

If Young were to return this season, the guess here is that Kevin Correia would lose his spot in the rotation, though the team could also opt to curb the workload on 22-year-old Mat Latos, who has thrown 142 of his career 193 innings this season.

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Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.

There was apparently some miscommunication between Pete Mackanin and Pat Neshek

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The Phillies won their first game since last Thursday, beating the Cardinals 5-1 on Thursday afternoon. Starter Aaron Nola pitched into the eighth inning, but left with one out. Pat Neshek took the mound with a runner on first base and induced an inning-ending double play on a 3-1 count to Tommy Pham.

Given that Neshek only threw five pitches and the Phillies were staked to a four-run lead, it wouldn’t have seemed unreasonable if the sidewinding right-hander came back out to finish the ninth inning as well. But Luis Garcia had that honor, tossing a scoreless final frame to nail down the win in a non-save situation.

After the game, manager Pete Mackanin said he asked Neshek to go back out for the ninth, but Neshek didn’t want to, per Stephen Gross of the Morning Call. Neshek told the media that Mackanin never asked him. There was also a miscommunication on Wednesday. The combination of Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, and Edubray Ramos combined to allow four runs in 2 1/3 innings, helping the Phillies lose 7-6. Neshek never appeared. According to Mackanin, Neshek told him that he wasn’t available to pitch. Neshek said he was told he’d have the day off.

The disconnect between Mackanin and Neshek could speak to a larger divide between the manager and his failing team. The Phillies have underwhelmed across the board due to players like Odubel Herrera (whose head was down and did not see Juan Samuel’s stop sign last night in what became a base running blunder), Maikel Franco, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola (today’s start notwithstanding), and Hector Neris not living up to expectations. The Phillies signed Mackanin to a contract extension last month, but the team has completely fallen apart since then and the latest communications issues certainly don’t reflect well on him. Neither does last night’s travesty of a game.

As for Neshek, he said that going to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years” but also realized, given the state of the team, that it remains very likely he winds up in a new uniform by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. After Thursday’s performance, Neshek is carrying a 0.63 ERA with a 25/4 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings. He very well could be the Phillies’ lone representative at the All-Star Game in Miami next month. That is, if he’s still wearing their uniform. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Nationals have shown interest in Neshek.