Extension talks heating up between Padres and Nick Hundley

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The Padres and catcher Nick Hundley already avoided arbitration in mid-January by agreeing on a one-year, $2 million contract, but Corey Brock of MLB.com hears that negotiations on a contract extension have “heated up” this week and that a deal “could be close.”

Hundley has actually talked with the Padres about a possible extension dating back to before former general manager Jed Hoyer left San Diego to join Theo Epstein with the Cubs. The 28-year-old backstop is currently under team control through 2014.

Hundley appeared in just 82 games last season due to elbow surgery and a stint on the DL with an oblique injury, but he also enjoyed his best offensive season in the majors, batting .288/.347/.477 batting line to go along with nine homers, 29 RBI and an .824 OPS over 308 plate appearances. PETCO Park is a more favorable environment for right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters, but you might be surprised to learn that he has a .271/.340/.478 career batting line and an .818 OPS at home compared to a .240/.290/.367 career batting line and a .657 OPS on the road.

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.