The Braves placed pitching coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave yesterday while they investigate allegations that he made homophobic comments, crude gestures and threatened a fan with a baseball bat at AT&T Park in San Francisco last Sunday.
McDowell apologized Wednesday in a statement released by the Braves, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com writes this morning that he is “almost certain” to be suspended by major league baseball. While veteran pitching coach Dave Wallace has taken over for McDowell on an interim basis, Rosenthal hears that he is unlikely to be fired by the Braves.
Though McDowell is not a current player, there is at least some precedent for a potential punishment from MLB. Former Braves reliever John Rocker was suspended for the first 28 games of the 2000 season after making his infamous comments about New York in Sports Illustrated. The suspension was reduced to 14 games following an appeal.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.