Jim Thome is “ahead of schedule” and nearing rehab stint

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Two weeks ago Jim Thome was worried that a herniated disk in his neck might knock him out for the rest of the season, but now the future Hall of Famer is scheduled to begin rehabbing at the Orioles’ spring training complex tomorrow.

Doctors initially told Thome to rest for at least 30 days, which would have ruled out a return before September, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the 41-year-old designated hitter is “ahead of schedule” and could be cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment before the end of the month.

Manager Buck Showalter seems cautiously optimistic that the Orioles will get Thome’s bat back in the lineup for the stretch run after he hit .261 with two homers and a .746 OPS in 18 games following a June 30 trade from Philadelphia.

Cameron Rupp, who criticized Odubel Herrera for bat-flipping, flipped his bat on a home run

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Earlier, Craig wrote about the negative reaction within the Phillies’ clubhouse after outfielder Odubel Herrera A) flipped his bat on a fly out, and B) failing to run out a dropped third strike. Manager Pete Mackanin was one of Herrera’s critics, unsurprisingly, but so was catcher Cameron Rupp.

Via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb, Rupp said that the Phillies’ frustration with Herrera is “not a secret.” He said, “Pete is the manager and what he asks us to do, we’re supposed to do. It’s a team thing and one guy can’t just not follow the rules. It’s not the first time. It has happened before and that’s something we don’t want to see. We want him in the game. He’s a good player. It’s hard for us. He’s a grown man. He has to learn on his own. We can only say so much.”

Though Rupp didn’t directly say his criticism of Herrera pertained to bat flips, we can logically deduce it as such. Herrera doesn’t commonly fail to run out dropped third strikes, but he does commonly flip his bat, particularly on non-homers.

Rupp had a good game against the Astros on Wednesday night, blasting a pair of two-run home runs. The problem? Rupp flipped his bat. In a 9-0 game.

The MLB.com video doesn’t really give a chance to see the full extent of Rupp’s flip, so here’s a .gif from Chris Jones:

And just in case anyone feels I’m interpreting the situation through a biased lens, Phillies beat writer Ryan Lawrence of The Philly Voice also saw it the same way.

We should probably expect Mackanin to bench Rupp for the next two games like he did Herrera, right? What’s that, you say? Certain players were more likely to be criticized for expressing emotion and perceived lack of hustle? Really makes you think.

Nationals to promote top pitching prospect Erick Fedde

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Nationals will call up top pitching prospect Erick Fedde to start in place of Stephen Strasburg on Saturday. Strasburg left Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks due to “some nerve impingement.”

Fedde, 24, was the Nationals’ first-round selection (18th overall) in the 2014 draft. The right-hander is the No. 3 prospect in the Nationals’ system, according to MLB Pipeline. Between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, Fedde has a 3.72 ERA with a 69/21 K/BB ratio in 77 1/3 innings.

The Nationals still seem hopeful that Strasburg won’t need a stint on the disabled list. Saturday, of course, will mark five games since his last start which happens to be half of the minimum disabled list stint. The Nationals could always DL him retroactive to Monday. (Update: The Nationals will indeed place Strasburg on the DL, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.)