Andrew Bailey was shut down in September and underwent “cleanup surgery” to remove bone chips from his elbow, but Jane Lee of MLB.com reports that the A’s closer has been cleared to resume throwing.
For now he’s throwing from 60 feet, but the plan is for Bailey to stretch things out to 120 feet by the time pitchers and catchers report for spring training in mid-February, leaving him enough time to be ready for Opening Day.
Last season the A’s led the league in ERA and ranked 11th in runs scored while finishing 81-81, but after adding Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, and David DeJesus to the lineup they look like potential contenders again in the AL West. For that to happen they’ll likely need a healthy Bailey, as he’s thrown 132 innings with a 1.70 ERA in his first two seasons.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.