Daily Dose: Webb may be done for 2009

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Brandon Webb has undergone two MRI exams since canceling a bullpen
session last Friday after a setback with his injured shoulder and
manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday that “it’s hard to say” if Arizona’s
ace will pitch again this season. “The priorities have shifted to
making sure we know everything about his health, about what’s causing
his pain,” Hinch said. “Pitching in 2009 is a distant second.”

Webb hasn’t pitched since a rough Opening Day outing and has
struggled dating back to last August, which has the Diamondbacks very
concerned given that he’s made no progress in three months on the
sidelines with what was initially termed a muscle injury. There’s now
speculation that he’ll need surgery to repair tears in his tendon or
ligament, but there’s no real use guessing without the MRI results.

While the Diamondbacks’ season keeps going from bad to worse, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Joey Votto came off the disabled list Tuesday and revealed that
his month-long absence was due to depression following the death of his
father last year. “There were nights that I couldn’t be alone,” Votto
said. “The very first night I was alone was when I went to the
hospital. I couldn’t take it. It just got to the point where I felt I
was going to die, really.”

Votto described how panic attacks led him to seek medical help and
caused him to be removed from several games, which makes his batting
.357/.464/.627 in 38 games all the more amazing. Obviously the Reds and
Votto’s fantasy owners will be keeping close tabs on him going forward,
and he hopped back into the lineup Tuesday night by going 1-for-4 with
two strikeouts while batting third.

* Plans for Kelvim Escobar to replace Scot Shields in the Angels’
bullpen took a hit Monday when he had a “pinching sensation” in his
injured right shoulder while playing catch. He met Tuesday with Dr.
Lewis Yocum and said afterward: “I think I need to slow down. I
expected to feel a lot better, but sometimes it takes time.” Escobar’s
uncertain status may lead to the Angels pursuing relief help via trade.

* San Diego activated Scott Hairston from the disabled list Tuesday
and cleared room for him by placing Brian Giles on the shelf with a
knee injury. Whether knee issues are to blame for Giles’ abysmal
.191/.277/.271 line is unclear, but sending him to the DL is the
easiest way to clear the Padres’ outfield logjam that includes
Hairston, Tony Gwynn Jr., Chase Headley, and recent call-up Kyle
Blanks.

AL Quick Hits: Roy Halladay (groin) tossed a bullpen session
Tuesday and is on track to rejoin the rotation next week … Magglio
Ordonez was back in the lineup Tuesday after a brief benching …
Chien-Ming Wang pitched fairly well Tuesday while giving up three runs
in five innings, but still fell to 0-6 … Alex Gordon (hip) is expected
to begin a rehab stint next week … Josh Outman (elbow) is slated to
undergo an MRI exam Wednesday and won’t be able to throw for at least a
few days … Asdrubal Cabrera (shoulder) reportedly could come off the
disabled list as soon as Thursday … Ryan Raburn blasted a walk-off
homer as a pinch-hitter Tuesday as Kevin Gregg blew his third save …
Jason Kubel remained out of the lineup Tuesday with flu-like symptoms …
Scott Kazmir (quad) said Tuesday that he’s ready to rejoin the rotation
after one rehab start and hours later David Price was rocked for 10
runs in a World Series rematch against the Phillies.

NL Quick Hits: Joel Pineiro tossed a complete-game shutout
Tuesday, giving up just two hits to the Mets … Ryan Howard (flu)
started at designated hitter and hit an RBI double Tuesday … Jonathan
Broxton picked up a one-out save Tuesday when Hiroki Kuroda couldn’t
quite finish the game … Derrek Lee went 2-for-3 with a double Tuesday,
extending his hitting streak to 20 games … Dave Bush is expected to
miss 2-3 weeks with a small tear in his biceps … Aramis Ramirez
(shoulder) is scheduled to take batting practice Friday … Miguel
Montero will be Arizona’s main catcher with Chris Snyder (back) put on
the disabled list Tuesday and Chris Young (groin) may soon be joining
him … Tommy Hanson struggled with his control Tuesday, but improved to
3-0 by shutting out the Yankees for 5.1 innings … Raul Ibanez (groin)
took batting practice Tuesday and hopes to come off the DL when
eligible next week.

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.