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- Stephen Piscotty Leaves Game After Collision
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St. Louis Cardinals Rumors
Here’s the latest on some significant members of playoff contenders who are battling injuries down the stretch…
- Stephen Piscotty has been diagnosed with a concussion following his scary outfield collision with Peter Bourjos on Monday. Still, he passed his initial set of neurological tests and there is now optimism that Piscotty will be able to play again before the season is over, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. The rookie outfielder has already been cleared to fly with the Cardinals to Atlanta for their final series of the year.
- Troy Tulowitzki could return to the Blue Jays lineup as early as Thursday’s game against the Orioles, the shortstop told reporters (including Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star). Tulowitzki hasn’t played since September 12, when he suffered a small crack in his left scapula after colliding with center fielder Kevin Pillar while chasing a pop fly.
- Carlos Gomez may return to the Astros lineup tonight, manager A.J. Hinch told Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link). Hinch is “not convinced [Gomez] is completely 100 percent” recovered from his left intercostal strain, but “it’s a risk worth taking” since the Astros are battling for their postseason lives. Gomez played on Sunday and Monday as a pinch-runner and defensive sub, respectively, getting one plate appearance but laying down a sacrifice bunt. A return to the lineup would obviously involve taking full swings, which worries Hinch a bit given the threat of re-injury.
- Stephen Drew may have played his last game of 2015 after being hit with a deflected grounder earlier this month. Drew has been sidelined since Sept. 22 and he tells Fred Kerber of the New York Post that he may have suffered a concussion and also a recurrence of a past inner-ear problem. If Drew is indeed done for the year, it may also mark the end of his Yankees tenure, as the veteran infielder will be a free agent this winter.
TODAY: The Cardinals have officially activated Wainwright, creating a 40-man roster spot by placing Carlos Martinez on the 60-day DL.
TUESDAY: The Cardinals are set to activate right-hander Adam Wainwright from the 60-day DL, and he will be immediately available to pitch out of the bullpen, reports MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter). Of course, Wainwright will have to wait a bit longer to get into a game, as tonight’s contest between the Cardinals and Pirates has been postponed due to rain. St. Louis will need to make a 40-man roster move in order to accommodate Wainwright’s activation.
Wainwright pitched 25 innings for the Cardinals earlier this season before a ruptured Achilles landed him on the disabled list. The injury was believed to be season-ending in nature, but Wainwright has been on an accelerated rehabilitation program that will see him get healthy just in time for St. Louis’ postseason push.
The addition of Wainwright to the bullpen will be a late boost to a Cardinals team that has also lost pitchers Jordan Walden and Carlos Martinez as well as catcher Yadier Molina, though Molina could potentially return for the playoffs at this point. The Cardinals have yet to officially clinch the division, but they’re the overwhelming favorite to capture the NL Central crown, as they hold a four-game lead with five games to play.
TUESDAY: Piscotty has been released from the hospital, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link). The outfielder “had a couple of bruises but overall everything checked out very clean. He had a couple more tests today and things came back as positive as we could hope for, so that was very fortunate,” Matheny said.
MONDAY, 10:03pm: All tests Piscotty has undergone have been negative, the Cardinals have announced. He will stay at the hospital overnight.
8:45pm: Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty has left this evening’s game against the Pirates after appearing to get hit in the head in a nasty collision. Piscotty and Peter Bourjos were both chasing a fly ball hit to left center field when Piscotty dove and appeared to strike his head hard against Bourjos’ knee. Piscotty was on the ground for several minutes afterwards and was then removed on a stretcher. He gave a small wave to fans at PNC Park as he was carted off. Jon Jay replaced him in left field.
The details of Piscotty’s injury aren’t yet known — the Cardinals announced he was diagnosed with a “head contusion,” but that he would undergo further tests. It would be very surprising if he didn’t miss significant time. Piscotty was pressed into duty due this season to a series of injuries to other Cardinals’ outfielders, and he’s had a terrific rookie year, batting .313/.365/.507 in 249 plate appearances.
As MLB Trade Rumors nears its ten-year anniversary, I’ve decided to update the design for desktop and tablet users. The changes are mostly aesthetic, but if you’re willing to take five minutes and send us feedback on the new look, I’d love to hear it. Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a link where you can preview our new design. I hope to roll it out within the next few weeks. – Tim Dierkes
With that said, here’s some news from around the league…
- Adam Wainwright‘s return to the Cardinals is now pending only a doctor’s approval, writes MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. Wainwright threw 27 pitches in a simulated game and faced six hitters, allowing a single but then retiring four hitters on strikeouts and a fifth via fly-out. Wainwright said that he felt like himself on the mound and called the session “incredibly uplifting.” Langosch notes that he also fielded grounders and tested his quickness on covering first base without issue. If all goes well, he could be activated not only for the postseason, but for the Cardinals’ upcoming regular-season series against the Pirates.
- Via MLive.com’s Chris Iott, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus briefly spoke about the team’s decision to bring him back and his expectations for the 2016 season (video link). Ausmus said that after a conversation with GM Al Avila, he knew that reports suggesting he’d be fired didn’t come from him or owner Mike Ilitch. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that he spoke to someone close to Ron Gardenhire — a rumored candidate to replace Ausmus — and was told, “Just when you think you got it figured out, it always surprises you.”
- The latest Q&A conducted by Fangraphs’ David Laurila is an excellent conversation with Orioles infielder Paul Janish — a longtime defensive wizard who has struggled to maintain consistent big league playing time due to his offensive deficiencies. Janish discusses with Laurila the rigors of playing in the minor leagues, the difficulty that being labeled presents (both mentally and in terms of getting future opportunities) and acceptance of his limitations. Janish believes that he can contribute to a big league club for at least another three to four years but admits that finding the right spot is more crucial for a player like him than it is others. I enjoyed Janish’s self-assessment and the insight into the experiences of less established stars that are perennially fighting for roster spots and would encourage all to check out the piece.
Jason Heyward‘s well-rounded game might best be appreciated by the “data-driven organization” that has watched him all season, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. This might be why the Cardinals could go into team-record contract territory to re-sign Heyward this winter, and the club is indeed interested in bringing him back “though they recognize it might take another team (or more) to help frame negotiations.” Goold writes that the Cards are open to the idea of including an opt-out clause in Heyward’s deal, which would allow the 26-year-old to potentially return to the open market in four or five seasons and score another big contract.
Here’s the latest from around baseball as we head into the last week of the regular season…
- Heyward, for his part, tells Goold that how the Cardinals view players “is ideal for a player like myself….I’m trying to do anything to win and people see that. That’s what they care about. They’re not looking at overall statistics. There are a few (teams) that would fit me, and here is one of them. That stands out. For me, it stands out especially.”
- Dave Dombrowski has retained many members of the Red Sox front office staff, which Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com writes was contrary to the public perception that Dombrowski was going to “blow up the organization” and restaff it with past colleagues. Instead, Dombrowski has made a few changes (perhaps most notably the hiring of Frank Wren as a senior VP of baseball ops) but has mostly kept the well-regarded Sox personnel in place. Promoting Mike Hazen from assistant GM to general manager underscores this continuity.
- Chase Utley has been getting some time at third base for the Dodgers, which JP Hoornstra of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin notes both helps the Dodgers depth-wise and could help the veteran continue his career as a utility infielder in future seasons.
- A reader asked John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter) if the Reds might pursue Alfredo Simon as a free agent innings eater. Fay doesn’t see the team going down that path, but he thinks that they could consider Bronson Arroyo, another former Red, in a similar role. After missing all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Arroyo will likely have his 2016 option bought out by the Dodgers and he’ll be available on the open market.
SATURDAY: Martinez has a shoulder strain and will miss the rest of the season, the Cardinals have announced. Martinez will also miss the postseason. He will not have surgery, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets.
FRIDAY: Cardinals righty Carlos Martinez left his start against the Brewers tonight after throwing just seven pitches. The team has announced that Martinez has right shoulder tightness and that his departure from the game was precautionary. He will receive an MRI tomorrow, manager Mike Matheny said.
Martinez was visibly in pain after that seventh pitch, turning his shoulder awkwardly and stepping off the mound. He then covered his face with his glove as he walked off the field. His average fastball velocity this year has been over 95 MPH, but none of his pitches tonight topped 93 MPH.
At this point in the season, losing Martinez for any significant period of time would be unfortunate for the Cardinals. Like most of the rest of the Cards’ starters, Martinez has been terrific this year. He has a 3.01 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and an excellent 54.7% ground ball rate in 179 1/3 innings, and he’s emerged as one of the National League’s top young starters.
If newly minted Brewers GM David Stearns elects to keep Craig Counsell in the manager’s role, the two appear to be a very good fit with one another on the surface, writes David Laurila of Fangraphs. Laurila spoke to Counsell recently about how his time working in the Brewers’ front office gave him an appreciation of analytics and how his years working with Doug Melvin have made him receptive to input from the front office. “Part of what working in the office did for me was provide a lot of exposure to the analytics side,” said Counsell. “That was valuable, because every day it plays a part in your decision-making. You’re challenged by what your eyes are telling you, you’re challenged by what the information is telling you, and you strike a balance. That’s managing. … [A] great thing about working in the front office was that it gave me a different perspective. You see the game differently. When you’re in the forest every day, you always don’t see it.” The entire interview is well worth a read, as Counsell offers an insightful, forward-thinking take on the evolving role of a manager and the incorporation of data and analytical information into his job.
A few more notes from the league’s toughest division…
- In the final minutes leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, J.A. Happ had heard nothing about a trade, writes MLB.com’s Jack Etkin, leading to a very surprised reaction from the lefty when he learned after the deadline had passed that he’d been dealt to the Pirates in a last-minute swap. Happ’s trade didn’t make too many headlines, but he’s been a vital component to the Pirates’ stretch drive, Etkin notes, pitching to a brilliant 2.28 ERA in nine starts with Pittsburgh. Happ appears to be yet another triumph for vaunted Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, as his ERA, along with his 10.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 rates, rank as the best work of his career. Happ, however, is just happy to have the opportunity to contribute to a playoff push — a sensation he hasn’t had since 2008-09 with the Phillies. “You come in and kind of realize what this team’s doing and what they’re capable of,” Happ said. “It’s been a lot of fun. It feels good to contribute.”
- Sean Marshall‘s career has been dramatically altered by shoulder surgeries, but the 33-year-old Reds left-hander tells C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he still hopes to play beyond the 2015 season. Marshall, who thought the surgery he underwent in May (his second shoulder operation) could be career-ending, now hopes to pitch for the Reds before the season comes to a close. He’s dropped his arm angle about four to six inches, he estimates. “I want to keep playing,” Marshall tells Rosecrans. “I’m not ready to hang ’em up yet. I still feel great.”
- Adam Wainwright threw 25 pitches to teammates yesterday, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. However, the injured Cardinals ace, who hopes to return for the postseason as a reliever, said he still feels “a hair off,” even though he considers his pitches to be “game-ready.” The next step for Wainwright is a simulated game without a screen (he threw from behind a screen Wednesday) so that he can field his position. Manager Mike Matheny wouldn’t offer any definitive take on whether or not Wainwright would pitch in the playoffs, stating that the decision would come down to what’s best for the team. He did, however, note that he’s a firm believer that, come the postseason, experience is an important factor.
After undergoing an MRI, Yadier Molina has been diagnosed with a slightly torn ligament in his left thumb that will sideline him for an indefinite period of time, tweets the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is “cautiously optimistic” that Molina will return for the playoffs, though, according to a tweet from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, and he’s not the only injured star that could make a postseason appearance; ace Adam Wainwright could rejoin the club in a relief capacity for October, according to Goold. Wainwright has been cleared for baseball activities.
Molina’s injury was the reason for the Cardinals’ DFA of first baseman Xavier Scruggs — as a 40-man move was required in order to recall a replacement catcher. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes, Molina sustained the injury on a swipe tag of Anthony Rizzo on a game-saving outfield assist from Jason Heyward yesterday.
The 33-year-old Molina has had a down season, hitting just .270/.310/.350 with four home runs. He’s still been excellent at controlling the running game, however, preventing 41 percent of stolen base attempts against him. He’s also drawn positive reviews for his pitch-framing skills once again, saving 5.7 runs above average per StatCorner.com and 7.4 runs per Baseball Prospectus. Even if his bat hasn’t lived up to his standards this season, the potential loss of his defense and familiarity with the pitching staff would be a huge blow for the Cardinals in the postseason should he be unable to return. He’ll be re-evaluated in five to seven days.
On the flip side of the coin, the potential return of Wainwright would be a somewhat unexpected boost to an already dangerous club (though as Nightengale tweets, Wainwright never once believed himself to be done for the season). Wainwright tossed 25 excellent innings for the Cardinals to open the season, but the longtime St. Louis ace ruptured his Achilles tendon midway through his fourth start of the season.
Goold reported yesterday that Wainwright would meet with doctors today in order to see if he could pitch this year, and while he clearly won’t have time to build up to a starter’s workload, adding that caliber of arm to the bullpen would be a boon for the Cardinals who, of course, are plenty familiar with the impact Wainwright can have on a postseason from the bullpen. Wainwright fired 9 2/3 shutout relief innings with a 15-to-2 K/BB ratio as a 24-year-old rookie in 2006, striking out Carlos Beltran to seal the NLCS and Brandon Inge to lock down the World Series.
The Cardinals have designated first baseman Xavier Scruggs for assignment, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The move will clear room on the 40-man roster for catcher Travis Tartamella.
Scruggs, who’ll turn 28 in a few days, has seen minimal big league time in each of the last two seasons. He hasn’t done much damage in that minuscule sample, but does own a solid .264/.357/.456 slash at the Triple-A level since the start of 2014.
As for Tartamella, 27, he has carried rather anemic batting lines throughout his minor league career. But his glovework is held in high regard, and he’ll represent another depth option behind the dish with Yadier Molina set to miss some time.
The Brewers‘ impending hiring of David Stearns as their new general manager is the biggest news out of the NL Central today, and here’s some more from around the division…
- Adam Wainwright will meet with doctors on Monday to determine if he has a chance to pitch again this season, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. The Cardinals ace ruptured his Achillies tendon in late April, an injury that usually has a 9-12 month recovery period. Wainwright has been throwing bullpen sessions to build up his arm strength, though he has yet to practice fielding during his rehab process.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty said his team will look at add at least one veteran starting pitcher this offseason, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The interview includes Jocketty’s general overview of Cincinnati’s disappointing season, though the GM believes the Reds can rebound in 2016 with fewer injuries and possible help from an improving farm system, and “by 2017, we’ll be back up and running.”
- Jocketty doesn’t regret dealing the likes of Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, as it the trades brought some needed prospect depth into the Reds‘ system. The reinforcements were necessary given the overall strength of the NL Central, “so this was the time you kind of step back and rebuild it a little….not rebuild, but retool. We’re not that far away,” Jocketty said.
- Twelve key decisions best outline Theo Epstein’s master plan to rebuild the Cubs, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The list includes everything from important draft picks to coaching changes to notable additions and subtractions, and the list even includes a mistake — Edwin Jackson‘s free agent contract “served as a cautionary tale for Epstein.”