Michael Wacha cleared to return Saturday vs. Reds

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As first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM, the Cardinals have cleared right-hander Michael Wacha to return to the starting rotation this Saturday evening against the visiting Reds.

Wacha missed nearly three months — between June and September — due to a stress reaction in his right shoulder and was shut down again last week with manager Mike Matheny acknowledging that the 23-year-old hasn’t looked quite right since returning.

But a couple of successful bullpen sessions have the Cardinals suddenly feeling optimistic.

Wacha owns an outstanding 3.00 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 154 strikeouts in 162 career major league innings and he was a star in last year’s playoffs.

The first-place Cardinals are obviously hoping he can again be an October weapon.

Bowden also reports that John Lackey is scheduled to return to the Cardinals’ rotation Friday after missing his last turn with a mild case of dead arm. Lackey owns a 5.05 ERA in 46 2/3 innings since joining St. Louis.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.