There are still quite a few hurdles to leap over, but Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha looks to be progressing toward a mid-to-late September return.
According to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wacha threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium, mixing in four or five changeups to a mostly fastball-focused workout. It was Wacha’s first time throwing off a mound since he was shut down in late June because of a stress reaction in his right shoulder.
“It felt good to get back out there on the mound,” the 23-year-old told reporters. “Arm felt great. It was 30 pitches. Pretty light throws but I’m happy with it.”
Wacha, a first-round pick in 2012, owns an outstanding 2.79 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 8.6 K/9 in 155 innings since making his major league debut in mid-2013. He won MVP honors in last year’s NLCS at the age of 22.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.