Craig Calcaterra

The Red Sox are encouraged by Pablo Sandoval’s conditioning progress the past few weeks

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Rob Bradford of WEEI has an omnibus Pablo Sandoval update.

Short version: the Sox will know more about his status early next week. He’s finally going back to Dr. Andrews for a consult on his shoulder, which Andrews was not able to do previously because Sandoval was experiencing too much pain. It should go down on Monday. Bradford has some backfill on the history of Sandoval’s shoulder issues, dating back to his Giants days, and the Sox’ awareness of previous problems. There are also some interesting observations about how the Red Sox deal with insuring players for injuries, which they have apparently not done in Sandoval’s case.

Additional takeaway: the Sox deny Jeff Passan’s report from a couple of weeks ago that there is some sort of mandate on Sandoval to lose a certain amount of weight before he can play again, even if his shoulder is OK. Bradford said that the Sox are monitoring Sandoval’s progress since he went on the disabled list and that they’re “encouraged” by what he’s been doing since he’s been out, conditioning wise.

In the past Sandoval has gone back and forth in this department, dropping weight and improving fitness when the Giants leaned on him, backsliding when they didn’t. It’s obviously a struggle for him, but he has shown that he’s capable of righting things when he has to. The shoulder here is an obvious wrinkle and a potentially major one, but we’ll know more in the coming days.

Athletics minor leaguer Sean Murphy dies

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Sad, sad news: Oakland Athletics minor league pitcher Sean Murphy died in Arizona on Monday. He was 27. A cause of death was not given, though the Athletics said he passed away “unexpectedly.”

Murphy has been in the A’s system since 2010, when he was selected as a 33rd round pick. He played five seasons in the A’s system at various levels. The past year appears to have been an extraordinarily rough one for him. He missed the entire 2015 season due to having Tommy John surgery. This past February Murphy was suspended 50 games after he tested positive twice for a drug of abuse.

The A’s released the following statement yesterday:

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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton watches his three-run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Associated Press
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Watching a Dodgers game while you’re on the east coast while simultaneously not being a Dodgers fan is probably an ideal combination. Take last night for instance. I took the computer upstairs to my room, got in bed surrounded by cats, the window open, a nice spring breeze coming in, and watched the first few innings in which Clayton Kershaw looked dominant before drifting off to sleep. But then, when I woke up this morning and saw that Giancarlo Stanton got to him for a three-run homer later, I didn’t have any reason to be particularly perturbed. Baseball as it’s meant to be: a nice overall investment in a pastime without so much investment that it made my night too late or my morning too unpleasant.

I dunno. Maybe that’s why the demographics of the game’s fan base skew older: it doesn’t angry up the blood. Old people like things that don’t angry up the blood. Anyway: Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Marlins 6, Dodgers 3: Early in the game, before I drifted off to sleep, Kershaw made Stanton look silly in striking him out. Then, with one out in the sixth inning, Stanton stepped to the plate and put the capper on a big Miami rally with a 425-foot homer to center. Watch Kershaw collapse to a knee as soon as Stanton makes contact. He knew it was gone:

Giants 1, Padres 0: Old school pitching duel. Johnny Cueto throws a big boy shutout — CG, 7H, 11K, 1BB — to stifle the Padres. And he had to, because the Giants could only notch one run off of James Shields over seven innings themselves.

Phillies 4, Nationals 3Andres Blanco had three hits including a two-run homer. Maikel Franco hit a seventh-inning RBI double. “Blanco and Franco” would be an amazing 1980s-style one-hour police drama. Or maybe they’re private eyes living in unusual circumstances. Yeah, that was more in keeping with Reagan-era action dramas. All of the trappings of a police show, but the heroes are private sector guys backed by some rich benefactor, doing what the cops, with all of their their government-imposed limitations, couldn’t do. In contrast, Carter-era private eye shows like the “The Rockford Files” had heroes who lived in rusted out trailers, just barely getting by through a haze of malaise. Man, art imitates life and mirrors society, doesn’t it?

Pirates 9, Rockies 4: Three homers for Andrew McCutchen by his dang self. The Braves have three homers as a team all season.

Red Sox 11, Braves 4: David Price struck out 14 dudes in eight innings, allowing only two runs. Travis Shaw hit a three-run homer and drove in five. The Braves have played 20 games. They’ve had losing streaks of nine and now seven. I’m going to run out of jokes and hyperbole about how bad this club is pretty soon and I’m going to just have to install a tracker which compares them to one of those bad 1930s teams where the owner just hired apple sellers to play the infield while trying to wait out the Depression. This is historic, 120+-loss kind of stuff, folks.

White Sox 10, Blue Jays 1: Chris Sale wins his fifth game after allowing one run over eight innings. He could’ve allowed a lot more as every White Sox starter got a hit and four of which drove in two runs. Fifth win in a row for Chicago. They’re 15-6. As we all expected.

Athletics 5, Tigers 1: Rich Hill pitched seven shutout innings while striking out eight. He’s a lefty, the Tigers are righty heavy. He had no problems and didn’t even appear to break a sweat. The only Tiger highlight was a sweet Justin Upton grab. Otherwise, blah for them. I feel like Brad Ausmus is gonna get axed.

Mets 4, Reds 3: Yoenis Cespedes played the hero. Sidelined for a couple of days with a bum right leg, he came off the bench to pinch hit for Terry Collins in the seventh inning, the Metropolitans down 3-0. All he did was hit a big three-run homer to tie it followed by a rally capped off with David Wright singling home Curtis Granderson with what we would’ve called the GWRBI back in the 1980s. Actually, none of us would’ve called it that. No one ever talked about that stat in real life. It could be found in box scores and on the back of some Topps cards — in little trivia blurb form, not as an actual stat line — and then — poof — it was gone.

Rays 3, Orioles 1: Kevin Kiermaier was the Cool Clutch Cat of the game, hitting a two-run homer in the sixth to give the Rays the win. Congratulations, Kevin! Scully Calcaterra salutes you!

Scully

Rangers 10, Yankees 1: Joe Girardi said yesterday that if he was Commissioner for a day he’d ban the shift. Maybe he should ban Luis Severino, who was shelled for six runs on seven hits in three innings. Maybe he should ban his lineup totally mailing it in against A.J. Griffin, who allowed only one run over eight innings and four hits in a game that, despite one team putting up a ten-spot, lasted only two hours and nineteen minutes.

Cubs 4, Brewers 3: The Cubs match the White Sox at 15 wins. There are all kinds of stories one could tell if the two teams keep this up, but rest assured the one that national baseball writers will be telling most of all is how epically easy their World Series travel arrangements were if these two meet in the Fall Classic. “One time, I stayed in the same Marriott for ten straight days,” the scribe told his friends one evening in 2035. “It was glorious.”

Twins 6, Indians 5: It was such a night for big individual performances that a walkoff hit is something of an afterthought. This one from Miguel Sano — the Twins’ second walkoff hit in as many games — was a single off of Cody Allen. The rally saved the bacon of Kevin Jepsen, who had allowed Mike Napoli to tie the game with a homer in the top of the ninth. Maybe he’d pitch better if he didn’t have bacon with him. I really don’t understand his approach with that, frankly.

Cardinals 8, Diamondbacks 2: That “send good prospects to Atlanta for Shelby Miller” thing isn’t looking too great as of yet. Miller was rung up for another five runs in five innings while walking four and that, son, just ain’t gonna cut it. His counterpart Carlos Martinez, meanwhile, tossed eight shutout innings and didn’t even give up a hit until the fourth. Brandon Moss had four hits, including a three-run homer.

Angels 9, Royals 4: Speaking of being rung up, how about Edinson Volquez‘s night?    Johnny Giavotella hit a three-run homer and Mike Trout and Carlos Perez each had two-run singles. Volquez’s line: 5 IP, 12H, 8ER. Yuck.

Mariners 11, Astros 1: A big blowout gave us our first position player pitching on the year: It was Erik Kratz, who allowed two runs on three hits. He was throwing between 80-85 m.p.h., which probably made Jered Weaver jealous. His control, however, left a bit to be desired:

Kratz Wild Pitch

The rest of his highlights can be seen here.

Meanwhile, Robinson Cano drove in six, with a three-run single and a three-run homer. The Mariners have won six of seven.

Cuban players paid smugglers $15 million according to court records

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu throws Los Angeles Angels' Kole Calhoun out at first during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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We’ve written recently written about the number of harrowing stories of Cuban baseball players who have made their way from their home country to jobs in Major League Baseball. And how those stories often involve human trafficking, blackmail and worse. In February, an agent was indicted on human trafficking charges. There are other parallel investigations into this murky world.

Today federal prosecutors said that Cuban baseball players paid a South Florida-based smuggling ring more than $15 million to leave Cuba, complete with setups for phony documents, false identities and boat voyages to Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The revelations came in the form of an unsealed grand jury indictment against Bartolo Hernandez, a Florida-based sports agent, and two of his associates. It provides details about the smuggling of 17 Cuban players, among them Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Leonys Martin of the Seattle Mariners. The smugglers usually took a percentage of any Major League Baseball contract a player signed. Of course, given the dire circumstances in which the players found themselves, there are allegations that these monies were extracted under duress and that the circumstances of moving the players from one place to another involved force or fear or bodily harm.

An ugly world which, hopefully, will disappear as relations normalize between the U.S. and Cuba.

Mets place Travis d’Arnaud on the DL with a rotator cuff strain

Travis d'Arnaud
Associated Press
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Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud left last night’s agem against the Reds with shoulder soreness after attempting to throw out one of the Reds’ many base stealers. He had a full exam today and the news is not good: d’Arnaud has been placed on the 15-day DL with a right rotator cuff strain.

The Mets selected the contract of Rene Rivera from Las Vegas, who had been removed from last night’s Triple-A game as a precaution once word of d’Arnaud’s injury was heard. He’s en route to New York.

d’Arnaud has struggled in the early going this year. When he played last year he was fantastic, but he was limited to 67 games due to a fractured pinkie and a left elbow strain. He’s just snakebitten with injuries so far in his career.