Dodgers considering bowing out of Zack Greinke sweepstakes

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When the Winter Meetings began, many considered the deep-pocketed Dodgers the heavy favorites to land free agent right-hander Zack Greinke. But now that teams, players and agents have departed Nashville, his future isn’t so clear.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Greinke talks have reached a “critical stage” and the Dodgers are now considering bowing out and moving on to other pursuits. Of course, this could all be part of the negotiation process, but Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti offered a pessimistic analogy when Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles asked him whether the club was on the “doorstep” of signing Greinke.

“We’re not on the front lawn. … We’re barely out of the car at the curb. It’s better than driving around the neighborhood looking for the house. We know where the house is located. We just can’t seem to get out of the car.”

The Rangers would immediately become the favorites to sign Greinke if the Dodgers were to drop out of the bidding, but USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported earlier this afternoon that the Angels are still in the thick of things, despite trading for Tommy Hanson last week and signing Joe Blanton last night.

Greinke, who turned 29 in October, has a 3.77 ERA over his first nine seasons in the majors. Many have speculated that the bidding could top CC Sabathia’s $161 million commitment for the richest contract ever given to a pitcher.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”