Ken Giles
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Ken Giles dealing with nerve inflammation after bad massage

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Blue Jays closer Ken Giles is day-to-day after developing some nerve inflammation in his right arm, club manager Charlie Montoyo revealed Saturday.

“During the break, he felt great and then he went [and] got a massage, and from that he got nerve inflammation and that’s why he didn’t pitch today,” Montoyo said in a quote captured by MLB.com’s Alexis Brudnicki. It’s not yet clear when Giles might return to the mound, as he was ruled out for Sunday’s series finale against the Yankees.

Giles, 28, has been spectacular when healthy. Prior to his recent setback, he racked up 13 saves with a 1.45 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 15.4 SO/9, and 1.4 fWAR through 31 innings in 2019. While it seems unlikely that he’ll be sidelined for long, there’s increasing pressure to make a quick recovery as the Blue Jays have been fielding recent trade offers from the Yankees and Twins.

For now, however, the team may turn to rookie right-hander Justin Shafer in Giles’ place. Shafer, now in his second season with the club, has pitched just 10 1/3 innings in the majors this season. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi notes that while they could also utilize Daniel Hudson in the closer role, they’d rather give him a break after he tossed 35 pitches in Saturday’s 2-1 win.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.