Last week Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reported that the Angels would accept a “middling prospect” in exchange for Bobby Abreu and his $9 million salary, but yesterday general manager Jerry Dipoto downplayed the team’s chances of parting with Abreu.
“Bobby is an Angel,” Dipoto told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. “Right now, he fits on our 25-man roster, in our clubhouse, on our team. Where he is in eight weeks is predicated on how he’s playing and everyone’s health. … As I told him, if he swings the bat like he can, we’re going to find a way to play him.”
In other words, there’s no reason for the Angels to trade Abreu before knowing if Kendrys Morales and to a lesser extent Mark Trumbo is going to be healthy for Opening Day, particularly if all they might get in return is a mediocre prospect and even that could require eating a big chunk of his salary.
However, if everyone is healthy at some point the Angels will have too many bats and not enough lineup spots for them, and while Dipoto has thrown cold water on rumors involving Abreu and Trumbo a deal to lessen the logjam remains likely eventually.
Abreu certainly isn’t worth $9 million at age 38, but he’s also not totally washed up. He posted a .353 on-base percentage in 142 games last season, topping a .350 mark for the 14th consecutive year, and also chipped in 21 steals. He’d be useful for plenty of teams if the Angels cover a lot of salary and want a little in return.
Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.
With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.
The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.
Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.
It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.