Jon Garland declines mutual option for 2011, declares free agency

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According to Dan Hayes of the North County Times, Jon Garland declined his $6.75 mutual option with the Padres for 2011 and will test the free agent waters. Per the terms of his contract, the veteran right-hander will receive a $300,000 buyout from the club.

Garland, who turned 31 in September, went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA over 33 starts with the Padres this past season. He averaged a career-high 6.1 K/9, but also saw his walk rate jump from 2.8 BB/9 last season to 3.9 BB/9.

He ended up being a pretty good bargain for the Padres on a one-year, $4.7 million contract, though a pretty fortunate batting average on balls in play and pitching at PETCO Park (3.00 ERA at home, 4.01 ERA away) certainly helped.

With a pretty thin market for free agent starters this winter, Garland will rightfully look to cash in with a multi-year contract. He’s a reliable innings-eater, but to expect a repeat in a more hitter-friendly environment would be foolish.

For what it’s worth, Garland ranked No. 21 on Matthew Pouliot’s list of the Top 111 free agents.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

Video: Brett Gardner goes deep for his first and second home runs of 2017

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It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:

Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:

Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.