Brian Schneider, Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson won’t be back before the All-Star break

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When the Phillies placed Ryan Madson on the disabled list they downplayed the severity of his hand injury, but yesterday the team officially ruled out his returning before the All-Star break.

Madson last pitched on June 18, so he’s already eligible to come off the DL, but Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that “he only started to play catch this weekend” and “will need to throw off a mound at least a couple times before he rejoins the bullpen.”

Zolecki speculates that the earliest Madson will return is July 15, which means he will have missed a month with an injury that didn’t even send him to the DL for 10 days as the Phillies initially tried to keep him on the active roster. It also means Brad Lidge may actually beat Madson back from the DL, which could give Charlie Manuel some interesting late-inning decisions if the former closer thrives immediately while the current closer is out of commission.

In the meantime Antonio Bastardo will continue to fill ninth-inning duties after converting each of his first five save chances to go along with a sparkling 0.87 ERA in 31 innings overall. If everyone gets healthy at some point between now and October the Phillies’ bullpen could be extremely dangerous.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.