First, the good news.
According to the Braves’ official Twitter account, catcher Brian McCann has been activated from the disabled list and will return to Atlanta’s starting lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs.
He went 2-for-6 with a home run and two RBI in a two-game minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett. The All-Star backstop wound up missing 18 days with a strained left oblique muscle.
McCann, 27, is batting .306/.375/.514 with 18 home runs, 15 doubles and 55 RBI through 373 plate appearances this season for the National League Wild Card-leading Braves. He should have no trouble picking up where he left off.
Now, the sour news.
According to the same official Braves tweet, right-hander Tommy Hanson has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. The move was made retroactive to August 7, so he probably won’t be out long, but the news arrives as further confirmation that the 24-year-old ace is having physical problems.
Hanson has registered a sparkling 3.60 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 130 innings this year, but his July ERA was a bloated 4.58 and he allowed seven runs on eight hits in his only August start. Maybe the rest will help.
The Braves activated reliever Scott Linebrink from the disabled list and optioned Anthony Varvaro back to Triple-A Gwinnett in corresponding roster moves. Atlanta currently leads the Wild Card by five games.
Giants’ right-hander Mark Melancon is considering surgery for an undisclosed injury, the pitcher told reporters prior to Friday’s game against the Phillies. Melancon did not divulge the exact location of the injury, but revealed that it had been plaguing him off and on since the 2012 season and was a separate issue from the right pronator strain that kept him sidelined through much of July and August. Giants’ head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner called the injury day-to-day and has not revealed a timetable for the right-hander’s return, should surgery become necessary.
Melancon, 32, has struggled to replicate the sparkling pitching line he produced with the Pirates and Nationals in 2016. He’s toting a 3.80 ERA through 25 appearances with San Francisco, flanked by a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 23 2/3 innings. His season has been significantly shortened after multiple trips to the disabled list for a right forearm strain, and while he looked to be in line to resume his closing duties this week, the Giants will likely play it safe with the veteran righty to keep him from compromising his health in 2018.
Although the injury doesn’t appear to be severe in nature, it’s clearly intensified over the last few months. Per MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Melancon said he’s “had discomfort every day this season,” though he hopes to continue pitching through the remainder of 2017. The Giants aren’t on the verge of contending by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid end to the 2017 season could help Melancon make some headway as he looks to reclaim his status as the team’s closer next spring.
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.