Giants insist Matt Cain is healthy, elbow fragments and all

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Matt Cain failed to make it out of the first inning Wednesday, allowing five of the seven batters he faced to reach base before being yanked after throwing 36 pitches. It was Cain’s second straight awful start, following up last week’s outing in which he allowed eight runs in 2.1 innings.

Despite those struggles manager Bruce Bochy insisted yesterday that Cain is healthy, telling Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com that “he’s fine” and the elbow fragments that have bothered him in the past “hasn’t affected him as far as I know.”

Baggarly, however, notes some red flags that suggest something isn’t right with Cain. For one thing Bochy had a reliever warming up just 20 pitches into Cain’s start Wednesday, suggesting the Giants knew something was up. Beyond that Cain’s fastball velocity was down 2-3 miles per hour.

Cain will get extra time off thanks to the All-Star break, but it’ll be telling when the Giants schedule his first start of the second half. Injured or healthy, Cain has allowed the most earned runs in the NL and has a 5.06 ERA after posting an ERA under 3.25 in four straight seasons.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.