T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that when Rangers closer Joe Nathan reached 55 games finished on Thursday, it triggered a clause which allows him to void a $9.5 million club option for 2014 and test free agency. While the veteran right-hander would like to stay with Texas, his first priority is to get a multi-year deal.
“The only reason to have that incentive in play is to have a little bit of power in getting a multiyear deal,” Nathan said. “Other than that, I’m just glad to get to that point and have it over and done with. Not that I was worried about it, but now I don’t have to concern myself with it. I can focus on what’s important.”
Even though he turns 39 in November, Nathan stands a pretty good chance to get his wish, as he has compiled a 2.20 ERA over the past two seasons while going 76-for-82 in save chances. The Rangers have Joakim Soria and Neftali Felz as in-house alternatives, so it’s possible they’ll move on if the bidding gets out of hand.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has been out since July 24 with a lower back strain. He’s slated to throw a three-inning simulated game in Pittsburgh on Monday, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Plunkett adds that if all goes well, the earliest Kershaw could return is August 31 against the Diamondbacks, but September 1 is more likely against the Padres.
Kershaw, 29, hit the disabled list on a pace to win his fourth Cy Young Award. He’s 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers have managed just fine without Kershaw. The club is 19-4 since July 24. At 87-35, the Dodgers own baseball’s best record, well ahead of the second-best Astros at 76-48.
Last week, Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler was ejected from a game against the Rangers after giving home plate umpire Angel Hernandez a look after a pitch was thrown outside for a ball. Kinsler was apparently unhappy with calls Hernandez had made earlier. Manager Brad Ausmus, too, was ejected.
After the game, Kinsler said that Hernandez “needs to find another job.” He added, “…he needs to stop ruining baseball games.”
Kinsler was fined by Major League Baseball for his remarks, Mlive’s Evan Woodbery reports. According to Ausmus, the fine levied on Kinsler was the largest one he’s seen in nearly 25 years in baseball. Kinsler said, “I said what I felt and what I thought. If they take offense to that, then that’s their problem.” Ausmus said, “To single out one player as a union is completely uncalled for.”
As Ashley noted on Saturday, the umpires wore white wristbands to protest “escalating attacks on umpires.” The umpires agreed to drop their protest on Sunday after commissioner Rob Manfred agreed to meet with the umpire union’s governing board, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports.