Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton may be ready to return to the starting lineup as soon as this Friday, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, following last night’s win over the Braves. Stanton hit the disabled list with a Grade 3 groin strain that was supposed to effectively end his season in early August, but Miami activated him from the disabled list last week in a surprise move. However, Stanton has been relegated to pinch-hit duties until this point. Frisaro writes that Stanton has been running the bases and performed fielding drills in right field without any signs of discomfort. At 73-73 on the season, the Marlins are currently four games back from an NL Wild Card spot with 16 games remaining on the schedule. Seven of those games will come against the fourth- and fifth-place Phillies and Braves, though, while another three will come against the Mets, who currently lead the Fish in said Wild Card chase.
A bit more from the division…
- Travis d’Arnaud is beginning to lose his hold on the starting catcher’s job, writes Mike Puma of the New York Post. Mets manager Terry Collins called d’Arnaud’s lack of home run pop in 2016 (four homers in 250 plate appearances) “frustrating,” writes Puma, and said he’s had extensive talks with the coaching staff to try to discern what has caused the downturn in d’Arnaud’s productivity, but to no avail. “You play the hot hand,” Collins explained in reference to starting journeyman Rene Rivera over d’Arnaud. “We’re in a situation now where we’ve got to go with, at this time last year or maybe a little earlier, hey look: The guys that are producing runs are the guys who are going to get in there.”
- Interestingly, Collins is seemingly electing not to apply that same logic in the outfield. The Mets’ skipper stood by the slumping Jay Bruce, writes the Post’s Mike Vaccaro, making a not-so-subtle statement about his confidence (or lack thereof) in current bench options Michael Conforto and Alejandro De Aza in the process. “If I take him out,” Collins said of Bruce, “I’d better be confident that someone can do a better job.” Bruce is hitting .192/.271/.315 since being traded to the Mets and is in the midst of a 3-for-25 skid over the past week (29 plate appearances). The Mets will have a decision to make on Bruce’s $13MM club option for the 2017 campaign, which doesn’t look nearly as palatable as it did at the time of the trade.
- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos admits to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post that he became distracted by focusing too much on his impending free agency recently. Ramos, who has been mired in a significant slump (.196/.252/.314 over his past 111 plate appearances), homered last night and tells Castillo that he’s come to the park with a better, more focused approach after a supportive conversation with his wife. The 29-year-old is still hitting .304/.354/.496 even after factoring in a month of poor performance at the dish, making him one of the top free agents on the upcoming market.