So when is the A-Rod decision coming out anyway?

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Joel Sherman of the Post thinks he has an idea: either January 3 or January 13. Why?

Here is why: The Hall of Fame announcement is Wednesday, Jan. 8 and both the Commissioners Office and the Players Association would probably ask Horowitz to be respectful not to overwhelm such a special moment with a Rodriguez announcement.

So he figures that either going before that — on the third — or safely after — on the 13th — would give the Hall of Fame announcement the wide berth it deserves.

Which, eh, not buying that that is a concern for anyone.  For one thing, MLB is not in control of the arbitrator’s calendar. They’re just as much at the mercy of his schedule as A-Rod’s team is. And I’m having a hard time featuring Horowitz caring too particularly much about MLB’s P.R. needs. Given that he can be fired by either side for any reason, he has no real option but to be his own man. If is seen to be leaning to help one side, the other is going to fire him.

But let’s say that MLB and the arbitrator are on the same page, P.R.-wise. Remember last summer how the first wave of announced suspensions came right before Hall of Fame induction weekend? Selig LOVED that because it gave him a victory lap moment up in Cooperstown with copious quotes from ex-major leaguers about how the game was being cleaned up and all of that stuff. You don’t think Bud Selig would love to have Frank Thomas or someone available to compare and contrast himself to A-Rod in early January? You bet your bippy he would. I think MLB would be just fine being able to pair up the announcement of A-Rod’s suspension and the election of some widely-perceived-to-be-clean Hall of Famers.

Of course, if the decision is to overturn A-Rod’s suspension, well, that would be hilarious.

Maybe that’s when the decision comes out. Maybe it isn’t. But I don’t think that reading the tea leaves like Sherman is here is all that useful of an exercise.

Jose Bautista is starting at third base for the first time in over four years

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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is getting a rare start at third base today. How rare is it? Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae notes that he last started at third base on April 14, 2013 against the Royals.

Bautista has played some third base already this year. On April 27 against the Cardinals, Bautista pinch-hit for third baseman Chris Coghlan and stayed in the game at the position. Last Saturday, Bautista moved from right field to third base as part of a handful of defensive switches. Overall, he’s played four defensive innings at the hot corner this season.

The Blue Jays have had to get creative at third base while Josh Donaldson has dealt with a calf injury. Darwin Barney and Chris Coghlan have drawn most of the starts at third base, but catcher Russell Martin started there on Sunday and tonight we’ll see Bautista there.

Braves’ bullpen hasn’t allowed a hit to last 54 batters, setting franchise record

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The Braves announced on Tuesday, citing Elias Sports, that the bullpen set a franchise record, preventing the last 54 batters faced from getting a hit.

The last reliever to allow a hit was Josh Collmenter to the first batter he faced against the Blue Jays last Thursday. Since then, the bullpen has logged 15 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings with a 10/4 K/BB ratio. Here are the logs since Collmenter gave up that hit.

Date Opp. Pitcher BF IP H R ER BB SO
May 18 vs. TOR Josh Collmenter 7 2.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 18 vs. TOR Ian Krol 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 19 vs. WAS Jason Motte 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 19 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Ian Krol 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Jason Motte 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 21 vs. WAS Luke Jackson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jason Motte 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 22 vs. PIT Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 22 vs. PIT Arodys Vizcaino 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jim Johnson 4 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 54 15.1 0 0 0 4 10

Despite the hot streak lately, the Braves’ bullpen still ranks in the middle of the pack in ERA at 4.07. Its 21.3 percent strikeout rate ranks 18th out of 30 teams and its 8.6 percent walk rate is ninth.