Astros-Rangers series officially moved to Florida

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Major League Baseball just announced that the Astros’ home series vs. the Texas Rangers has been relocated to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida due to the widespread devastation in Houston from Hurricane Harvey. The Astros will be considered the home team and will bat last. The games will have first pitch slated for 7:10 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday and 1:10 p.m. (ET) on Thursday.

Ken Rosenthal reports that the reason the series was not relocated to Arlington, Texas, where both teams are currently located due to flight diversions, is because it would create logistical problems. Specifically, swapping the series with the one scheduled for Texas in late September would result in the Rangers playing four straight series on the road.

No determination has been made regarding the Astros’ scheduled weekend series in Houston vs. the New York Mets. It could be in Florida again or moved to Citi Field in New York. It’s possible that Houston could be ready for the game by this weekend, but baseball officials are doubtful.

11:27 AM: As we mentioned last night, the Astros are scheduled to begin a homestand in Houston on Tuesday evening. Given the historic flooding brought on by Hurricane/Tropical storm Harvey, however, it seems highly unlikely that baseball will be feasible in Houston for several days at least. Sports are obviously of little importance compared to the humanitarian efforts, but a decision does have to be made about it all.

Ken Rosenthal is hearing that at least one possibility involves moving the Rangers-Astros series set for this week to be moved to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, as the Rays are on the road. Then, this weekend’s series against the Mets, also scheduled for Houston, could be moved to Citi Field in New York.

That’s obviously not ideal, as it would keep the Astros on the road for what would, in effect, be a 19-game road trip, as their next regularly-scheduled homestand after this week and this weekend is not scheduled to begin until Friday, September 15. One wonders if it wouldn’t be possible for the Astros to simply move their series against the Rangers to the Rangers’ home park in Arlington — both clubs are currently in Dallas awaiting word on were to go — and then swap out the Rangers-Astros series scheduled for Arlington in late September to Houston, which will be in better shape by then. That would give the Astros and Major League Baseball another few days to figure out about this coming weekend as well.

Obviously, of course, there are a lot of logistical issues that go into any of these decisions, but hopefully there will be some clarity as soon as possible.

Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.

Brewers’ Julio Mendez remains hospitalized after hit by pitch

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Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.

Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.

Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.