Out since late June with elbow tendinitis, J.J. Putz threw one inning in an extended spring training game yesterday and is hoping to rejoin the Diamondbacks’ bullpen early next week.
Kirk Gibson indicated that Putz will resume closing right away, but the manager told Anthony Fenech of MLB.com that he wants to see the injured right-hander work back-to-back days before coming off the disabled list.
Putz is expected to pitch Friday and Saturday at Triple-A, so barring a setback he could be cleared to return as soon as Monday.
In his absence David Hernandez has converted 7-of-7 save chances while allowing zero runs and Putz blew four saves in June before finally being shut down, so it would make sense for the Diamondbacks to ease him back into the closer role regardless of his ability to pitch on consecutive days.
Putz, who signed a two-year, $10 million deal as a free agent this offseason, converted 16-of-16 save chances with a 1.57 ERA through the end of May before his elbow starting barking again.
As per tradition, towards the end of the regular season, veterans on baseball’s various clubs haze the rookies by making them dress up and do something a bit embarrassing. That used to include things like making rookies dress up like women and carry pink backpacks, but Major League Baseball banned that practice, so veterans had to get marginally more creative.
The Phillies had their rookies — including Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams — dress up like characters in Grease and perform “Greased Lightning” at their hotel in Atlanta on Friday night. Not only did the Phils’ vets and other members of the crew get a free show, but so did employees of the hotel and nearby hotel patrons.
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As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki explains, Hoskins was the inspiration for the gag as he has earned the nickname “Rhys Lightning.” (Rhys, for the uninitiated, rhymes with “Grease.”) Hoskins said, “You always hear about team chemistry. I think stuff like that let’s you get to know guys on a different level, when you’re not at the field. You just become more personable with people. The better relationships you have, there’s a different level of playing for each other. And I think that’s usually a sign of a good team.”
The Twins also had some fun at the rookies’ expense:
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge went yard twice in Sunday afternoon’s 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays, bringing his season total up to 48. That leaves him just one home run shy of tying the single-season rookie record set by Mark McGwire with the Athletics in 1987.
After Sunday’s performance, Judge is hitting .281/.416/.610 with 48 home runs, 105 RBI, and 122 runs scored in 651 plate appearances. He has the AL Rookie of the Year Award on lock and is neck-and-neck with the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Chris Sale of the Red Sox, and the Indians’ Corey Kluber in the AL MVP Award race.