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Chris Young‘s career turned on a 1,168-word email the Royals right-hander wrote to a St. Louis surgeon in 2013 where he diagnosed himself as suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, writes Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star. Dr. Robert Thompson, director of the Washington University Center for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome concurred, and performed a decompression procedure to free the nerves in Young’s shoulder. “I feel better now at 35 than I did when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, because I was dealing with so much pain,” Young said. “I forgot what it was like to be healthy. Now I try to make up for lost time.” And that he has. Nearly two years after undergoing the career-saving operation, Young, the reigning AL Comeback Player of the Year, has been a relevation for the Royals pitching to a 1.06 ERA in seven games (including one start) with a 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 17 innings of work.
Elsewhere in the American League:
- The next start for Tigers ace David Price will be pushed back from Thursday to Saturday to give his mild hamstring strain extra time to heal, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Price says he could have pitched on normal rest, so the move is simply precautionary.
- The Tigers have a need for a left-handed power bat off the bench, but risk losing out-of-options infielder Hernan Perez to waivers if they attempt such an move, according to MLive.com’s Chris Iott.
- After throwing 108 pitches in winning his MLB debut as a starter, the White Sox remain coy on whether Carlos Rodon will remain in the rotation or return to the bullpen, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. “You’re also somewhat protecting the amount of usage you’re going to get out of him over the course of the year, so there’s some factors that go into it for him and his learning curve and things like that,” said manager Robin Ventura. “There’s more to it than he’s just ready to go.” If Rodon remains in the rotation for the rest of the season, Merkin calculates the left-hander will approach the team’s unofficial innings limit of 160.
- The Red Sox‘s July 2014 trade of John Lackey for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly is looking worse and worse, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Craig performed poorly down the stretch in 2014 for the Red Sox and has been just as bad this year, and while Kelly’s radar gun readings have been impressive, his performance hasn’t (although his peripherals this season have been much better than his 5.72 ERA). Meanwhile, Lackey has pitched well for the Cardinals while making the league minimum salary.
The Athletics have acquired right-hander Edward Mujica and cash considerations from the Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the teams announced. Right-hander Jarrod Parker has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list to clear a 40-man roster spot for Mujica in Oakland, per MLB.com’s Jane Lee (Twitter link).
This complicated-looking trade likely essentially means that the Red Sox are giving up Mujica, plus a bit of extra money to pay some of the remainder of his $4.75MM 2015 salary, in exchange for a bit of salary relief. The Red Sox designated Mujica for assignment this week after he posted a 4.61 ERA with eight strikeouts and three walks in 13 2/3 innings this year. The former Cardinals closer didn’t make much of an impression after signing with the Red Sox before last season, posting a 3.90 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 2014.
Mujica doesn’t throw particularly hard and has modest strikeout totals, not topping that 2014 6.5 K/9 in any of the last four seasons. As a result, his upside appears limited. He’s always had good control and has gotten his fair share of ground balls, however, so perhaps he can provide the Athletics with a decent middle reliever at a reasonable price until he becomes a free agent after the season. The Athletics’ bullpen has produced a 5.29 ERA this season while struggling through injuries, so Mujica looks likely to help.
6:42pm: The Red Sox will option Craig to the minors, Mastrodonato tweets.
5:11pm: A struggling Red Sox team appears set to shake up its roster, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes. Roster moves are “under discussion right now,” according to manager John Farrell. Michael Silverman, also of the Herald, tweets that one possible move could be a trade of outfielder Allen Craig. The team could also option Craig to the minors. Mastrodonato writes that Craig was in Farrell’s office with the door closed this afternoon.
Meanwhile, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who has hit well for Triple-A Pawtucket, was scratched from the PawSox’ game Saturday. Mastrodonato notes that if Bradley were promoted, he could play center field against many righties, with Mookie Betts moving to right and Shane Victorino (who’s currently on a rehab assignment at Double-A Portland) playing right field against lefties.
It would likely be easier for the Red Sox to option Craig than to trade him. He’s off to a .146/.255/.208 start and also hit poorly last year, and he has about $25MM remaining on his contract. It would appear that the only way to trade him, then, would be to eat a significant amount of salary in the process. Hitting coach Chili Davis says he believes Craig needs to play every day to regain his hitting stroke, so perhaps a stint at Pawtucket could help rebuild his value.
29-year-old rookie Mitch Harris‘ long path to the big leagues went through the Naval Academy and military service in the Middle East, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. The Cardinals drafted Harris all the way back in 2008, but he did not actually pitch in the minors until 2013, after serving nearly five years in the Navy. “The early returns were not positive,” says GM John Mozeliak. “When we got him, he was throwing 80 miles an hour. He was in good condition, but not baseball condition.” Nonetheless, Harris made quick work of the minor leagues, getting up to 97 MPH this spring. The Cardinals promoted him two weeks ago, and he hasn’t yet allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings pitched. Here are more quick notes from the Central divisions.
- The Indians will replace former Triple-A Columbus pitching coach Carl Willis with Tim Belcher for the next two days, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. After that, lower-level pitching coordinator Julio Rangel will take over in what sounds like an interim basis. Willis, of course, recently took over as the Red Sox’ new pitching coach.
- Tigers ace David Price‘s MRI this morning showed he had a mild hamstring strain, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. The Tigers won’t place him on the disabled list, so he will make his next start Thursday against Minnesota. Price left Friday’s game after stepping on a bat while backing up home plate, but it appears he doesn’t have a significant injury.
The Marlins‘ decision to designate Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment was due in part to J.T. Realmuto‘s work with pitchers, Juan C. Rodriguez writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). “He did outstanding calling pitches,” says Dan Haren of Realmuto’s work in an April start. “I thought it was going to be really tough for him because I throw a lot of pitches in a lot of different counts to different sides of the plate, and he did really, really good.” The Marlins promoted Realmuto in mid-April after Jeff Mathis got hurt, and since then, he’s made a powerful impression. Realmuto hasn’t hit much so far (.222/.237/.333 in 76 plate appearances so far), but his track record suggests his offense will eventually improve somewhat, and the Marlins seem to view his hitting as secondary anyway. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Manager John Farrell worked with new Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis for many years in the Indians organization, but Farrell emphasizes that the team isn’t hiring Willis because of their friendship, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes. “This is about hiring those you have familiarity with, that you are confident in their skills to get the job done,” says Farrell, pointing out that the Red Sox’ firing of Juan Nieves after his staff’s miserable start to the season came at an unusual time of the year, and that Willis was available and could step in immediately. Previously the pitching coach of the Indians and Mariners, Willis was working as the pitching coach of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.
- The continued success of the Rays‘ pitching staff despite injuries and roster turnover is due to a successful culture bred in part by former stars James Shields and David Price, Peter Gammons says on MLB Central (video). The Rays’ starters work together and encourage one another, working as a unit rather than as individuals, and their relievers are particularly keen on learning from one another.
We touched on injuries earlier this evening, but two significant situations have popped up since — both regarding rehabbing Athletics pitchers. First, righty A.J. Griffin was forced out early from his simulated game with shoulder soreness, as John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports. Griffin’s injury was to his elbow, of course, and the club is hopeful that the shoulder pain only constitutes a minor setback. More troublingly, fellow Tommy John patient Jarrod Parker left his Triple-A rehab start in a scene that left observers seriously concerned about his arm, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Parker, who is said to have been overcome by pain after throwing a very wild pitch, walked off with assistance while clutching his surgically repaired right elbow — which is now on its third UCL. The Athletics‘ summer trade plans are virtually impossible to gauge anyway, but the inability of either of those pitchers to return to the rotation would certainly have an impact. Lefty Scott Kazmir has been talked about quite a bit as a possible trade candidate, though moving him could prove tough if the team is in contention and does not have replacements lined up.
- Another new arm issue cropped up for the Rays, too, who have placed lefty Drew Smyly on the 15-day DL with shoulder soreness, per Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link). Smyly, the key piece in last summer’s David Price trade, had already missed time early this year with a shoulder issue, which enhances the level of concern.
- Injured Orioles shortstop Everth Cabrera, who has struggled for Baltimore, is no longer capable of being optioned without consent as he has reached five years of service, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun notes (Twitter link). With J.J. Hardy returning to action, Cabrera may not have an active roster spot when he returns, and his new service time status could well complicate the club’s decisionmaking.
- The Red Sox have hired away Carl Willis from the Indians to become their new pitching coach, Jim Massie of the Columbus Dispatch reports (h/t to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe). Willis had been the Triple-A pitching coach for Cleveland. He’ll be tasked with getting better production out of a starting staff that has struggled in the first five weeks of the season.
- Prized White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon is expected to receive only a spot start tomorrow, Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com reports. Manager Robin Ventura did leave some room open for Rodon to earn another start, however, saying: “the way it sits right now, he would still be back in the bullpen and getting us some innings there.” Regardless of how things progress in the near term, it seems that Chicago’s plan is to use Rodon in the pen to manage his innings, perhaps with the hope of having him as a starter down the stretch — assuming, at least, that the club can stay in the postseason picture.
As expected, Reds starter Homer Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery today, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Though his previously-repaired flexor mass tendon apepared in good shape, Bailey’s UCL was determined to be completely torn, leaving little in the way of options to avoid surgery.
- Likewise, Rays righty Alex Cobb was found to have a fully torn UCL, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, meaning he too was virtually assured to require a TJ procedure. Cobb says the best-case scenario would have him return late in 2016. Fellow Tampa hurler Matt Moore has continued to build his way back from his own UCL replacement, with MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reporting that Moore was able to throw all of his pitches in a live BP session. Moore says he is targeting a mid-June return to the big league bump.
- Though his shoulder has shown some evidence of progress, Rangers lefty Derek Holland will wait an additional two weeks before he begins throwing, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Though Texas has enjoyed a somewhat surprising contribution from its starting staff (3.71 ERA, 9th in baseball), peripherals suggest that some regression is forthcoming. Regardless, Holland’s health is critical to the club, both this year and — perhaps even more so — in the future.
- Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is set to catch seven innings tomorrow as he continues to work fully back from Tommy John surgery, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Wieters’ ability to return to health and productivity will go a long way toward determining his free agent earning power next winter, of course. It will also tell on Baltimore’s ability to compete for a postseason slot, though replacement Caleb Joseph has been a revelation.
- The Mariners appear unlikely to see righty Hisashi Iwakuma return until early June, at the soonest, per Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Manager Lloyd McClendon says that Iwakuma is “probably still two to three weeks from going out [on a rehab assignment]” and will then need to throw a few outings before making it back to the big leagues. As with Wieters, Iwakuma needs to get healthy and show that he can continue to be effective in order to bolster his open market case. The scuffling Mariners, meanwhile, are not only firmly in need of his services, but also must assess whether they will be in the market for rotation help over the summer.
- Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez is not likely to need a DL stint for his left shoulder sprain, manager John Farrell tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston seems to have dodged a bullet with the injury situation, as the club can ill afford an extended absence from the player who has paced the club in hitting thus far.
With a solo shot off of Chris Tillman during tonight’s 4-3 Yankees win over the Orioles, Alex Rodriguez officially passed Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list. Rodriguez’s 661 career homers put him behind only Babe Ruth (714), Henry Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) in the record books. While A-Rod’s feat is certainly noteworthy in its own right, his homers have drawn even more attention due to the controversy around the so-called “milestone” bonuses in his contract that the Yankees are refusing to pay. Here’s some more news from around the league…
- Cuban right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez is now eligible to sign with teams during the 2015-16 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. Gutierrez has received residency in Mexico and registered with MLB, though since he still needs to be officially declared a free agent by the league, he may not be able to sign immediately when the signing period opens on July 2. Gutierrez will be subject to the international bonus pool limits, so teams that are facing $300K signing caps in the upcoming signing period (the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees) won’t be able to afford the promising youngster.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was hoping to keep Drew Butera after the catcher was designated for assignment, but as Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez), “it became fairly clear that he was going to get claimed on waivers, so putting together a trade made the most sense.” Butera was dealt to the Royals for infielder Ryan Jackson earlier today.
- On the Royals side of that trade, GM Dayton Moore told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan) that Butera won’t supplant Erik Kratz as the primary backup catcher. “We’re just trying to get through this period of time,” Moore said, in reference to Kratz’s stint on the DL with an injured foot. Since Butera is out of options, I’d guess he could be on the move again once Kratz is healthy.
- Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to reporters before a recent Rangers/Astros game about a number of baseball topics, including the possibility of a shorter schedule. The Associated Press has a partial recap of Manfred’s comments.
- One topic that isn’t a major priority for the league office is adjusting the designated-for-assignment period. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets, Manfred said “that rule actually has functioned fairly effectively over a period of time.” Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal and MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth both recently explored how some players, like Alex Hassan, can have their careers essentially put on hold due to constantly being in “DFA limbo.”
- In his latest Insider-only post, ESPN’s Buster Olney cites the Athletics‘ Scott Kazmir and the Reds‘ Mike Leake as potential trade candidates if their teams continue to struggle. Both hurlers are scheduled for free agency this winter. Olney speculates that the Dodgers could be interested in either pitcher to bolster their rotation, while Kazmir could also be a fit with the Red Sox or Astros.
- While the Marlins bullpen hasn’t pitched very well this year, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro doesn’t think the club needs to turn to Edward Mujica, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox earlier today. Mujica pitched well for the Marlins in 2011-12 but as Frisaro notes, he’s struggled this year and Miami doesn’t really have any roster space for him.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: 2015-16 International Prospects | Alex Rodriguez | Boston Red Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Drew Butera | Edward Mujica | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Miami Marlins | Mike Leake | Oakland Athletics | Rob Manfred | Scott Kazmir | Vladimir Gutierrez
The Red Sox announced today that they have relieved pitching coach Juan Nieves of his duties. Nieves joined the Boston coaching staff prior to the 2013 season and assisted the club’s World Series run in a year in which the team’s pitching staff posted a collective 3.79 ERA. GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell spoke to the media on a conference call today to discuss that change, the club’s rotation and a few other notes. Here are some highlights and a bit more on the BoSox…
- The Red Sox have a very small list of replacement candidates for Nieves, Cherington said (Twitter links via WEEI’s Rob Bradford). Boston is considering at least one internal and one external candidate. The primary reason for Nieves’ dismissal was an inability to get through to Boston’s current group of starters, Bradford tweets. Cherington stressed that there was no singular incident that led to the decision to let Nieves go, the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber tweets. There will be no further changes to the coaching staff, he added (via Bradford).
- Despite struggles within the rotation, there will be no changes to the starting five, according to Cherington (via the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier). Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz have combined for a 5.54 ERA that is the second-worst rotation ERA in the Majors, with only Colorado’s 5.59 mark coming in above Boston’s starting five.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Indians Triple-A pitching coach Carl Willis is a consideration to replace Nieves (Twitter link). Willis, who has formerly served as the Major League pitching coach in Cleveland, worked with Farrell in the Indians organization in the early to mid-2000s, Rosenthal adds in a second tweet. Willis was also the Mariners’ pitching coach as recently as 2013.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia spoke with Bradford yesterday and told him that he “was definitely hoping to come back” to Boston after initially learning that the Marlins had designated him for assignment. However, Saltalamacchia was told that he’d have to search elsewhere for employment, and he tells Bradford that he understands the Sox’ decision in wanting to give Blake Swihart a chance behind the plate. “I can completely respect that,” said Saltalamacchia, in regards to Swihart. “As a player you appreciate something like that, when a team has a homegrown, young guy they want to give an opportunity to. That’s what every player hopes for and wants, that opportunity to prove himself.”
This move is likely destined to bring an end to Mujica’s tenure with Boston. He had signed a two-year, $9.5MM deal before last season. Unless the club can find a taker for some portion of that guaranteed money — which is split evenly over the deal’s two seasons — it will remain obligated for the full amount.
Mujica has struggled to a 4.03 ERA over 73 2/3 innings during his time with the Red Sox. He has struck out 6.2 and walked 2.1 batters per nine in that span, which is solid enough but falls well shy of the 9.2 K:BB ratio he put up in 2013. Mujica’s average fastball velocity is down over a full tick from that excellent campaign.
It remains to be seen what kind of interest Mujica will draw, and whether the Sox will be able to save some cash with his departure. There are always teams looking for pen depth, of course, and Mujica has a rather impressive pedigree. If no clubs are willing to take on obligations, then Mujica would presumably clear waivers and have a chance to elect free agency, where he should receive plenty of action.