Giancarlo Stanton went from one homer in April to MLB’s best hitter in May

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Giancarlo Stanton homered 56 times in his first 250 career games, but when he began this season by going homerless in his first 19 games there were plenty of questions about what was wrong with the 22-year-old Marlins slugger.

It turns out, the answer was … nothing.

Stanton snapped his homerless streak on April 29 and in 31 games since then he’s hit .336 with 13 homers, 10 doubles, and a .759 slugging percentage. That includes .343 with 12 homers in 29 games this month, which is good for a 1.201 OPS that leads all MLB hitters for May.

For his young career Stanton has now 69 homers in 300 games, which is tied with Albert Pujols for the 11th-most in baseball history through 300 games. Here’s the leaderboard:

Ryan Howard         91
Bob Horner          84
Chuck Klein         81
Ryan Braun          79
Joe DiMaggio        79
Mark McGwire        77
Rudy York           77
Ralph Kiner         75
Eddie Mathews       72
Reggie Jackson      71
GIANCARLO STANTON   69
Albert Pujols       69

Incredible company, to say the least. And it’s also worth noting that Stanton’s first 300 games have come at a much younger age than many players on that list. For instance, Ryan Howard holds the all-time record with 91 homers through 300 games, but he debuted at age 24 and played his 300th game at age 27. Stanton will be 27 in … 2017. By then he might have 300 homers.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.

The Red Sox sign Jhonny Peralta

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The Red Sox have signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor-league deal. He’ll report to Pawtucket.

Peralta, 35, hit a paltry .204/.259/.204 in 58 plate appearances for the Cardinals this year. But with Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list — and ineffective when he hasn’t been — the Sox could use some infield depth.

This is the second former Tiger that former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has picked up today, after signing Doug Fister. No word if he’s kicking the tires on Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch.