The climb continues for Stephen Strasburg.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, the rehabbing right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) over three innings tonight in his latest minor league rehab start with Class A Hagerstown.
Strasburg, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, gave up two hits while striking out six, walking one and hitting a batter. He topped out at 98 mph on the radar gun and was pulled after throwing 40 out of 60 pitches for strikes.
Strasburg struggled in his previous start with Class A Hagerstown last Wednesday, so while he wasn’t perfect tonight, this outing was certainly a step in the right direction. The 23-year-old is tentatively scheduled to make his fifth rehab start Saturday, either with High-A Potomac or Triple-A Syracuse. While his 30-day rehab clock expires on September 6, it’s possible he could join the Nationals’ rotation as soon as September 2 against the Mets.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.