The Angels just got dealt a potentially-major blow.
Garrett Richards — who has suddenly developed into a legit staff ace this season at age 26 — was transported off on a stretcher Wednesday evening at Boston’s Fenway Park after suffering what looked to be a very serious left knee injury in the bottom of the second inning of his start against the host Red Sox.
Richards was hustling over to cover the first base bag on a potential double play when his legs buckled underneath him. He laid on the ground for close to eight minutes before Albert Pujols and Angels manager Mike Scioscia lifted him carefully onto a cart. All of the Angels players came onto the field as trainers were tending to Richards, and David Ortiz — who wasn’t involved at all in the fateful play — said some words of encouragement to the right-hander before he was taken off. Updates will be coming.
Richards owns a 2.61 ERA in 26 starts this year. Anaheim’s other starters have a combined ERA of 4.04.
The Angels currently hold a one-game lead over the A’s in the American League West standings.
UPDATE, 8:56 p.m. ET: According to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, the Angels are calling it a “left patellar knee injury,” but don’t have any more information at this time. Richards will obviously have an MRI.
MLB.com has now posted video of the Richards injury. It’s not a pretty scene …
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.