Mets lose Beltran to DL, bring back Fernando

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Already down their third- and fourth-best position players, the Mets
just lost No. 1 when it was decided that Carlos Beltran would need a
couple of weeks off to rest his troublesome right knee.

It appears as though Beltran has been making the calls here. Though
he kept playing through the pain over the weekend, he chose to have an
MRI on Monday which apparently revealed that the bone bruise he
suffered last month has either gotten worse or at least failed to
improve. Clearly, the two weeks off was preferable to a second
cortisone shot that might not numb the pain for any longer than the
first one did.

The Mets have decided to bring back Fernando Martinez to replace
Beltran. Martinez, of course, was just sent down last week after
hitting .194/.286/.274 in 62 at-bats. Now the club has to determine
whether it makes sense to go with Martinez in center and hope that his
bat heats up or if it should play Jeremy Reed’s superior glove in
center field. Reed has hit .294/.324/.368 in 68 at-bats this season,
giving him a 692 OPS that’s barely above his 680 career mark. Martinez
will certainly be the choice against lefties, but Reed may currently be
the better option against righties.

At this point, the Mets should be content if they enter the All-Star
break at .500. They’ve had more obstacles to deal with than the
Phillies have thus far, yet they’re still just two games back in the NL
East. Also, there’s no one at all likely to run away with the wild
card. If they can get Jose Reyes and Beltran back after the break,
perhaps Carlos Delgado in August and add a pitcher before the deadline,
then they’ll still be in very good position to set themselves up for
another spectacular final-week failure (I kid, I kid).

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.