Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, an accomplished .278/.357/.513 career hitter, has registered a lowly .221 batting average and .281 on-base percentage since the beginning of June.
After another 0-for-4 performance in Tuesday’s loss to the Twins, Longoria may have revealed to reporters the primary cause for that extended slump.
According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the talented 25-year-old has been experiencing occasional discomfort in his left foot this season, the result of a nerve problem called a Morton’s neuroma. He tried to downplay the matter on Tuesday night:
“Every once in a while I take a bad swing and it just acts up. At this point I’ve gotten used to it. It’s something I’m going to battle through and it’s not going to affect playing time.”
The Rays are likely hoping that Longoria can limp his way to the All-Star break and then return as a refreshed player in mid-July. He was not named to the American League All-Star roster this year for the first time since breaking into the majors in 2008 and is sporting an OPS (.781) that is 89 points below his career mean (.870).
The frosted tips and “Wild Thing” haircut he’s been sporting this week may be part of a slump-busting effort.
Starter Jeremy Hellickson has become the Phillies’ most enticing trade chip as he’s put together a solid month of July. After shutting out the Marlins on one hit and one walk over six innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his July ERA to 1.97 and his overall ERA to 3.65. As a result, the Phillies are telling teams they want a top-five prospect to part with Hellickson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Obviously, a top-five prospect means something different if you’re the Marlins as opposed to the Rangers. And the Phillies’ price point for Hellickson isn’t likely to stay that high, but GM Matt Klentak is setting a lofty starting point so that the return might end up being higher than market value.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Phillies could end up holding onto Hellickson and giving him a qualifying offer after the season. He notes that the Phillies have only $25 million tied up for the 2017 season, so they could afford to pay Hellickson in excess of $16 million if he were to accept.
Madison Bumgarner isn’t the only Giants pitcher who can rake. Matt Cain crushed a three-run home run during Tuesday’s game against the Giants.
Cain stepped to the plate with runners on the corner and one out against Reds starter Cody Reed in the bottom of the second inning. Reed threw a 1-1 fastball down the middle and Cain hit it about 20 rows back in the left field seats.
It’s Cain’s first homer of the season, his first since 2012, and the seventh of his 12-year career. He still has some work to catch up to Bumgarner, who has two homers this year and 13 in his career.
On the pitching side of things, Cain got the win against the Reds on Tuesday night, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He currently holds an ugly 5.95 ERA.