UPDATE: If you were frustrated about Neftali Feliz staying in the bullpen, this probably won’t make you feel any better. According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, club officials have confirmed that Alexi Ogando is now a possibility for the starting rotation. Like Feliz, Ogando was stretched out for the starting rotation this spring.
9:31 PM: We have a timetable for Tommy Hunter’s return from a groin injury. And it’s not good.
Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com earlier today that Hunter will be sidelined for at least six weeks after an MRI confirmed a Grade 2 (or moderate) strain of his right groin.
The Rangers hope that a blood-platelet injection scheduled for Monday will help advance his recovery.
“That’s a fair range,” assistant general manager Thad Levine said. “We’ll have to update that as he responds to treatment and the injection. But that’s kind of a ballpark figure.”
Hunter suffered the injury just hours after the team announced that Neftali Feliz would remain the closer for this season. Despite the injury, the Rangers remain committed to keeping the 22-year-old right-hander in the bullpen.
According to Sullivan, Michael Kirkman and non-roster invitee Dave Bush are in the mix to replace Hunter in the starting rotation. The Rangers would probably love to keep Bush around for depth purposes, but he has the option to declare himself a free agent on Sunday.
The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”
Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”
Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”
Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.
Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.
It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.