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Report: Cubs asked Tigers about Justin Verlander and Alex Avila

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Jon Morosi reports that the Cubs asked the Tigers about the availability of starter Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. The two sides haven’t yet engaged in trade negotiations, however.

Verlander, 34, was lit up for seven runs over 3 1/3 innings in his most recent start, one in which he didn’t record a single strikeout. The veteran right-hander is carrying an ugly 4.96 ERA with a 92/47 K/BB ratio over 98 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but his walk rate has nearly doubled and his strikeout rate has fallen.

The Cubs, though, could use the pitching help. John Lackey has given up an MLB-high 24 home runs already and has a 5.24 ERA. Among Cubs starters to have made at least six starts, Jon Lester is the only one with an ERA under 4.00.

Avila, 30, has had an outstanding season. He’s batting .310/.431/.571 with 11 home runs and 29 RBI in 204 plate appearances. The Cubs, who recently traded Miguel Montero to the Blue Jays, could use another catcher to pair with Willson Contreras.

Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, and Didi Gregorius say teams should expand protective netting

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Earlier, a young fan was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium and had to be carried out before being taken to a hospital. Fortunately, it seems that the fan is okay.

As usual, when a scary incident such as today’s occurs, players come out in full support of expanding the protective netting at ballparks. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier as well as Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier and shortstop Didi Gregorius all said as much after Wednesday afternoon’s game.

Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis has also been a very vocal proponent of increased netting. For the most part, the players are pretty much all in agreement about the subject. It’s only a vocal minority of fans who seem to think that their ability to snag a random souvenir or have an unimpeded view supersedes the safety of their neighbors.

Video: Giancarlo Stanton hits a laser for his 56th home run

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Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton continued his march towards 60 home runs, hitting No. 56 in Wednesday afternoon’s win against the Mets. The Marlins, leading 7-2 prior to Stanton’s two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth, didn’t need the extra run support but welcomed it all the same. Mets reliever Erik Goeddel tossed a 1-1, 78 MPH curve that caught too much of the plate.

After Wednesday’s action, Stanton is batting .279/.378/.634 with 120 RBI and 116 runs scored along with the 56 dingers in 646 plate appearances. The last player to hit at least 56 home runs in a season was Ryan Howard (58) in 2006. Stanton’s is the 19th player-season of at least 56 homers.