UPDATE: The Phillies might have caught a break. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Ruiz believes he suffered a cramp in his side last night rather than an oblique strain.
He is scheduled to take batting practice today and could be back in the Phillies’ lineup in the next couple of days.
9:22 AM: It’s still too soon to call the Phillies done, but they continue to make things pretty hard on themselves.
Carlos Ruiz left last night’s game against the Blue Jays with a left oblique strain. He received treatment after the game and will be re-evaluated later today, but Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he expects Ruiz will be sidelined for at least the next few days.
“That’s a big one,” Manuel said. “He’s our .360 hitter, the guy that’s been hot, the guy that’s been consistent. He won’t play for a few days, that’s for sure. We’ll know more tomorrow.”
Manuel is obviously holding out hope here, but given what we know about these types of injuries, a stint on the disabled list appears likely.
While the Phillies’ offense has struggled without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, Ruiz is in the midst of a career year. The 33-year-old backstop is hitting .363/.424/.578 with eight homers, 35 RBI and a 1.002 OPS in 58 games while throwing out 37 percent (17-for-46) of attempted basestealers. Brian Schneider will fill in behind the plate for now while Eric Kratz is expected to join the team in Toronto today.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.