Erik Bedard won’t have much time to make an impact before the trade deadline

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The Mariners were just 2 1/2 games out of first place as recently as last Tuesday, but have dropped five straight to fall 7 1/2 back in the American League West. It’s probably safe to call them sellers at this point, but their most valuable trade chip isn’t ready to get back on the mound.

Erik Bedard was placed on the disabled list with a sprained left knee at the end of June. It appeared to be a minor injury at the time, especially considering his past arm issues, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge told Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune yesterday that the left-hander will need to miss at least one more start following the All-Star break.

“We’ll get him throwing on flat ground a few more times, give him a couple of bullpens and he’ll be ready,” Wedge said. “Blake (Beavan) will get that next start in Erik’s spot.”

This means that Bedard will have a maximum of two starts before the trade deadline to prove he’s healthy. And that’s assuming he’ll be ready to start during a series against the Red Sox from July 22-24. Yes, the Mariners could still deal him in August, but it’s a bit more complicated and they’d be less likely to get something significant in return.

Bedard didn’t throw a pitch in the majors in 2010, but has a 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP across 15 starts this season. He has an excellent 85/26 K/BB ratio over 90 innings of work.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.