As it turned out, Anthony Rizzo wasn’t quite ready to make the big jump from the PCL to the majors.
After hitting just .143/.282/.265 with one homer and six RBI in 98 at-bats, Rizzo was sent back to Triple-A Tucson on Thursday. He was 0-for-13 since play resumed after the All-Star break.
Taking his spot is big Kyle Blanks, who hit .351/.421/.716 with 11 homers and 35 RBI in 134 at-bats after replacing Rizzo at Tucson. Blanks was long considered the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez at first base for the Padres, but San Diego decided it to try him in left field in 2009. He hit, but he couldn’t stay healthy there, suffering a season-ending foot injury that season and then missing most of 2010 after Tommy John surgery.
Blanks is listed at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, so he always made a lot more sense at first base anyway. Still, he’s not quite the talent that Rizzo is and it remains to be seen if he’ll fit into the Padres’ long-term plans. He’ll probably take over as the Padres’ primary first baseman against righties for now. Jesus Guzman had been starting over Rizzo against lefties and doing excellent work in that role. Blanks, like Guzman, is a right-handed hitter, but he’s probably the better bet of the two versus righties.
Hopefully, Rizzo sees his first taste of failure in the majors as a learning experience. Just 21, he was never supposed to see San Diego this year anyway, at least not until September. He’s definitely a top talent, but he does need to cut back on the strikeouts a bit. The Padres will probably leave him in Triple-A until rosters expand, and if things go as hoped, he can battle Blanks for the starting job next spring.
The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.
Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.
Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.
Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).
Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.