One of the more interesting tidbits within the Astros’ leaked internal communications earlier this week was an potential trade for Marlins superstar Giancarlo Stanton, which means the Marlins are yet again trying to convince the baseball world and Stanton that he’s not going to be traded.
Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill called Stanton personally to assure him there were no trade talks ongoing currently and then Hill told reporters the following:
I told you guys in the beginning of the winter that he’s not available–and we’re not shopping him. I would expect clubs to call on a good player. He’s a good player and I think that’s the point we want to make sure gets out. I’ve spoken to him and told him exactly that. So there’s no miscommunication and no misinterpretation on anybody’s part. We haven’t shopped him. He’s not available. We want that to be crystal clear.
We talk to our counterparts all the time. They like some of our players and we like some of their players. That doesn’t mean any of them are available. In that situation, it’s unfortunate they got hacked and it’s unfortunate that information got out there. But we just wanted to set the record straight he is not available. We didn’t go around calling and shopping him. It’s a non-story on our end.
All of which sounds perfectly fair and reasonable, except Miami’s history with trading away star talent makes it a story whether Hill likes it or not.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.