Cliff Lee successfully completed a bullpen session Saturday morning and is expected to make his return to the rotation Wednesday after missing three turns with a strained oblique.
Unfortunately, the news wasn’t quite so good as it pertained to Chase Utley. Manager Charlie Manuel said Friday that Utley would report to Clearwater early next week, but Utley said Saturday he’ll remain with the Phillies for a bit longer. When he does go to Clearwater and the Phillies’ minor league facility, it’ll be because he’s ready to play in games. However, he doesn’t yet have any timetable for when that will happen. Utley has been out since the spring with chronic knee problems.
With Freddy Galvis struggling mightily at the plate — he’s hitting .185/.214/.284 in 81 at-bats — the Phillies have recently started giving Pete Orr more playing time at second base.
Kyle Kendrick figures to move to back to the pen to make room for Lee in the rotation.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.
Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.
Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.
There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.