Padres' Chris Young nearing return to big leagues

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The Padres hit a well-chronicled skid at the end of August and carried that bad momentum into early September.  On top of that, they’re having to be overly protective of some of their young arms.

It has created a tense situation at the top of the National League West standings and the Padres are currently clinging to a mere one-game lead over the Giants.

Now for the good news: a reinforcement may be on the way.

According to Corey Brock of MLB.com, right-hander Chris Young threw 5.2 shutout innings on Saturday night at Single-A Lake Elsinore and is “clearly ready” to return to the big leagues.  Young tossed 3.1 scoreless in his first rehab start last week.

The 31-year-old out of Princeton University has registered only one big-league outing this season and made only 14 appearances in 2009 to some rather shoddy results, but it wasn’t long ago that Young was the ace of the Padres’ staff. 

In 2008, Young turned in a 3.96 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over 18 starts.  He struck out 93 batters in a little over 102 innings.  In 2007, Young had a career-best 3.12 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 30 starts and tallied 167 strikeouts in 173 innings.

If he can get anywhere near that kind of form, the Padres will be in pretty good shape down the stretch and Mat Latos might be able to find some extra rest.

Video: Undercover David Ortiz drives a Lyft in Boston

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David Ortiz did one of those “Undercover Lyft” spots for, well, Lyft, in which famous people disguise themselves while driving passengers around. Yes, they’re ads, but they’re still pretty funny. At least this one was.

Best parts: (1) the woman who says she has two David Ortiz shirts to which Undercover Ortiz responds, “actually, all my shirts are his shirts”; and (2) when Ortiz agrees with someone that baseball games are “so loooong.” Oh, and at one point he tells a woman who said she was going to the Red Sox game that night that he was too. After he unmasked himself, she explains his own joke to him. Which, ooohhkay.

In other news, people who take Lyfts in Boston either don’t watch much baseball, because Ortiz’s costume is NOT very concealing, or else they simply don’t look at their Lyft driver while in the car, at all.

Scouting in Venezuela: “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time”

MIAMI - MARCH 14:  Venezuela fans cheer with a country flag while taking on the Netherlands during round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium on March 14, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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Ben Badler of Baseball America has a story about how major league scouts who cover Venezuela are unhappy with the rules imposed upon them by the league. Rules, they say, which unreasonably prohibit them from scouting Venezuelan players in centralized, team-controlled locations or, alternatively, flying them to team facilities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.

The result: international scouts are forced to travel all over Venezuela to evaluate prospect. And, given how destabilized and dangerous Venezuela has become, they believe their safety is at risk:

“MLB’s rules that limit our ability to travel a Venezuelan guy to the Dominican Republic, that limit our ability to get them in a complex at different ages, all these rules are solely contributing to the risks that all of us are taking traveling from complex to complex, facility to facility in the streets,” said one international director. “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s on MLB when it happens, because they’re the ones who created these rules.”

As Badler notes, Major League Baseball itself has moved its annual national showcase out of the country due to safety concerns. It will not, however, relax scouting rules — which seem arbitrary on their surface in the first place — in order to make the job of international scouts safer.

It seems that Rob Manfred and the league owe their employees better than this. Or at the very least owe them an explanation why they don’t think they do.