The Indians originally hoped to have Grady Sizemore in their lineup by now, but the 29-year-old has encountered numerous setbacks following knee and back surgeries. While he was finally able to do some running earlier this month, ESPN’s Buster Olney passes along word that his progress has stalled once again.
The Indians surprised many by bringing Sizemore back on a one-year, $5 million deal during the offseason and now it appears they may get nothing for their investment.
Michael Brantley has at least emerged as a productive regular in center field, but 38-year-old Johnny Damon entered today’s action hitting just .221/.291/.349 with four home runs and a .641 OPS over 182 plate appearances. Of course, he’s also far from an ideal option defensively in left field. With Sizemore nowhere close to returning, the Indians figure to be in the mix to acquire an upgrade for their outfield in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.