Bill Baer

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Clint Hurdle has considered moving Juan Nicasio into the closer’s role

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Pirates closer Tony Watson blew another save chance on Wednesday, surrendering a game-tying two-run home run to Trey Mancini with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in Baltimore. He also blew the save on Tuesday and overall has blown five save chances in 15 opportunities this season.

The Pirates head back to open a four-game set at home against the Marlins on Thursday, part of a 10-game homestand. Manager Clint Hurdle said, “We’ll have an opportunity to discuss some things on the way back (to Pittsburgh). We’ve got to assess who’s available (Thursday) as well. So that will be a thought,” Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

Hurdle also said the idea of moving Juan Nicasio into the closer’s role “was given some serious thought.” For now, it sounds like Watson will be given a chance to work through his issues, though.

Nicasio, 30, owns a 1.35 ERA with a 25/8 K/BB ratio in 26 2/3 innings this season.

Cubs, Addison Russell issue public statements on domestic violence allegations

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Earlier, we learned that Major League Baseball is investigating Cubs shortstop Addison Russell over allegations that he was physically abusive towards his wife. Both the Cubs and Russell issued public statements on Tuesday afternoon.

The Cubs’ statement, via Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic:

Last night, we were made aware of a serious claim posted on social media about Addison Russell. We reached out to Major League Baseball and, following the protocol established by MLB, will fully cooperate with the Commissioner’s Office as it gathers pertinent facts. Addison will not be in uniform tonight to allow him to work through this matter.

Russell’s statement, also via Sharma:

Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful. For the well-being of my family, I have no further comment.

Javier Baez is batting seventh and playing shortstop in Russell’s place for Thursday night’s game against the Rockies.

Pat Neshek says going to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years”

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36-year-old Pat Neshek is having the best season of his career, owning a 0.82 ERA with a 21/4 K/BB ratio in 22 innings for the Phillies. Manager Pete Mackanin has even entrusted the right-hander in a save situation recently and planned to do so again on Wednesday if the Phillies happened to hold a ninth-inning lead. The only problem is that the Phillies, at 21-36, are currently baseball’s worst team, so Neshek’s contributions almost certainly won’t help his team win a championship.

Still, Neshek says the offseason trade that sent him from the Astros — currently baseball’s best team at 42-18 — to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years,” CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports.

Neshek explained why he became frustrated with his role with the Astros last season.

I kind of became a bit player there. In ’15, I did a lot of eighth-inning stuff and I think I was second or third in the league in holds, but I had a bad final month where they kind of just gave up on me. In ’16, I just became a sixth-inning righty specialist guy and it was awful. I knew I could do a lot more. So when the trade (to the Phillies) happened I was thrilled. This was the best thing that happened to me in a few years.

I can understand why (the Astros) did it. They have a bullpen that’s pretty well-stocked over there. So I’m real happy to be out — if not I would rather have been a free agent than gone back there, which may sound crazy but it gets to the point where you just want to do more. I would almost rather retire than do a role like I was doing for them. It was miserable.

Though Neshek is quite content with the Phillies and would like to stick around, he realizes that the team is certain to shop him as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. When asked if he expects to be traded, Neshek said, “I would say yes. It would be really cool to stay around here. I like it here. I feel very comfortable here.”

Stranger things have happened. The rebuilding Phillies were mostly inactive last summer, as new GM Matt Klentak chose to hold onto veteran starter Jeremy Hellickson and reliever David Hernandez. The only summer trade made last year involved catcher Carlos Ruiz going to the Dodgers near the end of August. This year, most of the Phillies’ veteran additions have failed to work out, as Clay Buchholz, Joaquin Benoit, and Howie Kendrick suffered injuries and Michael Saunders has floundered. Hellickson has also struggled, leaving Neshek as the Phillies’ lone attractive trade chip.