Derek Holland set for first minor league rehab start Wednesday

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After Roy Oswalt held the Rockies to one run over 6 2/3 innings in his Rangers’ debut on Friday, the AL West-leaders are close to getting another boost for their starting rotation.

T.R Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Derek Holland is scheduled to make his first minor league rehab start Wednesday with Triple-A Round Rock.

Holland, who was placed on the disabled list earlier this month due to shoulder fatigue and a stomach virus, is scheduled to throw around 50 pitches in his first start back. The young southpaw is expected to make a second rehab start next Monday, which would set up a potential return next Saturday against the Twins. It’s possible the Rangers could give him a third rehab start, would would push back his return until right after the All-Star break.

Holland, who signed a five-year, $28.5 million extension with the Rangers in February, has a disappointing 5.10 ERA and 59/24 K/BB ratio in 67 innings this season. His velocity was down a bit prior to landing on the disabled list, a by-product of his stomach virus. However, he has regained his strength during his three-week absence.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”