Mike Pelfrey pitched with a bum rotator cuff most of last year

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Mike Pelfrey is the defacto ace of the Mets staff. And, while he’s not elite or anything, he showed in 2010 that he can be a dependable starter. Which is nuts considering that, as the Daily News reports, he pitched most of the 2010 season with a messed up shoulder:

“I had a strained rotator cuff and a strained posterior capsule almost the whole season,” Pelfrey told the Daily News Thursday, a day before making his first Opening Day start Friday night against Florida. The 27-year-old righty is ready to be the Mets’ ace, a leadership role that he relished even as the No. 2 guy last year, when he decided to pitch through pain.

Based on the article it doesn’t seem as though Pelfrey or the team was risking anything health-wise by letting him pitch through it, but he certainly was in pain.  Notable, though, is that his season splits aren’t dramatic. His first half was better, but the second half was still pretty good. His strikeout rate went down, but he became a bit more stingy with the walks.  Even his second half was an improvement over anything he did in 2009.

The Mets biggest weakness this year is the rotation. If they’re going to have any shot to make a go of it in 2011, they’ll need Pelfrey to anchor the staff.  That’s no given, but assuming he’s feeling better this year than he did last year, it’s not a long shot either.

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.