Phillies reliever Scott Mathieson gets closing gig in Japan

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Longtime Phillies prospect Scott Mathieson certainly wasn’t going to get any saves in Philadelphia next year after the team signed Jonathan Papelbon, and the Phillies released him Tuesday so that he could join the Yomiuri Giants of Japan as their new closer.

Mathieson debuted with the Phillies way back in 2006, but he hurt his elbow the next season, missed all of 2008 following Tommy John surgery and had made only cameo appearances in the majors since. He had a 3.12 ERA and a 166/74 K/BB ratio in 146 2/3 innings in Triple-A the last two seasons, but he had pitched just 6 2/3 innings in the majors (giving up two earned runs) during that span.

Unfortunately, while Mathieson still has the nice fastball, his command is shaky and he lacks an exceptional second pitch. He still might have been a useful No. 3 or No. 4 right-hander in a major league pen, but he wasn’t going to make more than the minimum anytime soon. In Japan, he’ll earn $2 million per year, according to the Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.