Jon Heyman credits Ryan Howard for being “worth every penny” of a contract that hasn’t started

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Here’s a tidbit from Jon Heyman’s latest column at SI.com:

It’s early in Ryan Howard’s $125 million contract. But Howard, who has a league-leading 29 RBIs, is worth every penny so far.

Couple things.

One, it’s so “early in Ryan Howard’s $125 million contract” that the contact hasn’t even started yet. He signed a five-year, $125 million extension that starts in 2012. Kind of hard to be “worth every penny so far” when he hasn’t even been paid any of those pennies yet.

Beyond that, Howard “has a league-leading 29 RBIs” largely because he’s come to the plate with significantly more runners on base than anyone else in the league. Howard has had 111 runners on base for his 125 plate appearances. No other NL hitter has had more than 96. Howard is hitting .266 with an .851 OPS with runners on, which is hardly anything special.

He’s also hitting .276 with six homers and an .854 OPS overall, which ranks 11th among MLB first basemen and 42nd among all MLB hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboard. If that’s been “worth every penny” of a $125 million contract that won’t even begin until next season then an awful lot of hitters should be asking for raises.

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.