Matt Murton

Some notable numbers from Japan: Central League stats

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Every so often I like to see how some old friends are doing in Japan.  We’ll start with a scan through the Central League numbers and then move on to the Pacific League tomorrow.

Wladimir Balentien: .345/.430/.718, 14 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB in 142 AB
Tony Blanco: .220/.306/.441, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 0 SB in 127 AB
Craig Brazell: .240/.284/.370, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB in 146 AB
Joel Guzman: .142/.200/.217, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB in 106 AB
Brett Harper: .259/.345/.435, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB in 147 AB
Kenji Johjima: .189/.243/.326, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB in 132 AB
Matt Murton: .277/.319/.358, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB in 173 AB
Alex Ramirez: .268/.315/.465, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 0 SB in 157 AB
Rusty Ryal: .219/.260/.260, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB in 73 AB
Terrmel Sledge: .278/.337/.488, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 0 SB in 162 AB
Chad Tracy: .235/.293/.336, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB in 149 AB
Josh Whitesell: .287/.393/.574, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB in 94 AB

– Balentien is setting the pace for everyone in his first year in the Central League. He not only leads the league in hitting, but he has five more homers than anyone else. Only Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, at .618, is within 200 points of his .718 slugging perentage.

It’ll be interesting to see if Balentien stays in Japan after this. In 511 major league at-bats with the Mariners and Reds from 2007-09, he hit .221/.281/.374 with 15 homers. However, at 26 (27 in July), he’s still young enough to entice major league teams if anyone believes he’s taken a real step forward.

– Murton broke Ichiro Suzuki’s single-season hit record last year in his first year in Japan, but he hasn’t been nearly as successful so far this year.

– Failed former top prospect Joel Guzman hit .279/.344/.519 with 33 homers and 98 RBI with the Orioles’ Double-A club to earn the gig in Japan, but he hasn’t been able to capitalize.  He’s fanned 44 times in 106 at-bats for the Chunichi Dragons.

Jonathan Albaladejo: 1-0, 2 Sv, 0.42 ERA, 24/6 K/BB in 21.1 IP
Tony Barnette: 1-0, 1.93 ERA, 19/3 K/BB in 14 IP
Bryan Bullington: 2-0, 2.45 ERA, 46/12 K/BB in 55 IP
Seth Greisinger: 1-2, 4.12 ERA, 10/6 K/BB in 19.2 IP
Clay Hamilton: 1-4, 6.68 ERA, 14/10 K/BB in 32.1 IP
Randy Messenger: 2-1, 2.34 ERA, 29/14 K/BB in 34.2 IP
Tomo Ohka: 0-1, 15.00 ERA, 3/3 K/BB in 6 IP
Dennis Sarfate: 1-1, 11 Sv, 2.18 ERA, 28/2 K/BB in 20.2 IP
Mike Schultz: 0-0, 1.06 ERA, 7/11 K/BB in 17 IP
Jason Standridge: 2-2, 3.20 ERA, 28/17 K/BB in 39.1 IP
Carlos Torres: 0-1, 8.16 ERA, 9/9 K/BB in 14.1 IP

– I always thought Albaladejo would turn into a perfectly useful major league reliever, and it’s a shame no one chose to claim him off waivers before the Yankees could ship him to Japan over the winter.  That transaction netted the Bombers a cool $1.2 million.

– Bullington, the one-time No. 1 overall pick of the Pirates, ranks eighth in the six-team Central League with his 2.45 ERA.  As will become even more obvious when we look at the Pacific League numbers tomorrow, offense is well down in Japan, too.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.