Julio Borbon’s lack of production at the plate and inconsistent defense in center field had him falling out of favor in Texas even before injuring his hamstring in mid-May, but now the fall is complete and he’s landed back in the minors.
This afternoon the Rangers activated Borbon from the disabled list and optioned him Triple-A, where he last played in mid-2009.
Since then Borbon has 745 plate appearances in 215 games for the Rangers, including back-to-back Opening Day starts in center field, but he’s hit just .275 with a terrible .308 on-base percentage and punchless .342 slugging percentage in 169 games since a strong half-season debut in 2009.
What’s particularly interesting about the Rangers demoting Borbon to Triple-A is that the guy they’re now turning to as the primary center fielder is 33-year-old Endy Chavez, whose current .415 batting average in 12 games doesn’t hide his .315 career OBP or the fact that he hasn’t gotten 300 plate appearances in a season since 2006.
Convincing the Rangers that he’s a better option than Chavez is doable for Borbon, largely because Chavez will do a lot of that work for him, but by the time Texas is ready to move on in center field they may decide to turn to $15 million Cuban signee Leonys Martin rather than give Borbon another shot. Martin is hitting .319 with good plate discipline and power at Double-A.
The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.
It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.
Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.
The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.
While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.