Bobby Parnell cleared for baseball activities

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Mets closer Bobby Parnell didn’t throw a pitch after July 30 last season due to a herniated disk which required surgery, but he appears on track to be ready for the start of 2014.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that Parnell has been fully cleared for baseball activities and plans to report to the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie next week to get started. While the 29-year-old lost around 30 pounds in the days following surgery, Rubin hears from one person who recently saw Parnell that “he looked terrific — toned, strong, limber.” That person probably wants to remain anonymous just to freak Parnell out a bit.

Parnell had some hiccups in his previous chances as a closer, but he thrived prior to the injury last year, posting a 2.16 ERA and 44/12 K/BB ratio over 50 innings while going 22-for-26 in save chances. He should be a lock for the job if healthy.

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.