Nelson Cruz expects hamstring to be fine for Game 6

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As noted in our handy little ALCS Game 5 Live Blog, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz was pulled from Wednesday’s game because of tightness in his left hamstring — the same hamstring that forced him to the disabled list twice this year.  He landed on the disabled list a third time with right hamstring problems.

For now, it appears the slugger will be fine for the rest of the postseason.

Cruz told MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez after Wednesday’s loss that he was pulled for precautionary reasons and that he should be good to go by Game 6 on Friday.

The 30-year-old is batting .378/.410/.838 with four home runs and five doubles over 37 at-bats in these 2010 playoffs.  He is a monster at the plate and will play a crucial role in what will either be a horrible collapse or a joyous celebration in this ALCS with New York.  The Rangers, as a franchise, have never been to the World Series and have only been to the playoffs four times since 1961.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.