Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock is not healing quite as quickly as might have been hoped, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports, though there has been some progress made. Given that he still hasn’t been cleared to swing, and will need some time on rehab assignment thereafter, it seems reasonable now to expect that Pollock won’t return until some time in early-to-mid-July. He’s set for a CT scan Monday. The slow progress, clearly, is not great news for the Snakes, though the club has halted an earlier slide in the standings. and played better baseball of late. They’re currently leading a resurgent Dodgers club by 1.5 games for the division lead.
Here’s more from Arizona and the rest of the NL West:
- As Piecoro further covers (both in that article and on Twitter), it seems that D-backs righty Shelby Miller is nearly ready to be activated from the 60-day DL. He has managed only a 4.66 ERA in four rehab outings, but is carrying an excellent 28:6 K/B ratio over his 19 1/3 minor-league frames thus far. Miller isn’t listed as one of the four starting pitchers for the upcoming weekend series against the Pirates, however, and manager Torey Lovullo didn’t provide an update on what is next for the right-hander just yet. Fellow righty Matt Koch allowed at least five runs for the fourth time in seven starts last night, though, so logically speaking, the D-backs could bump him from the starting five to accommodate Miller’s return.
- Much as we’ve heard in prior periods of trade interest, the Padres seem disinclined to offer up closer Brad Hand for less than a compelling return. Per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, via Twitter, the “likely asking price” on Hand will be a “young everyday player.” Morosi gives the example of Rafael Devers, should the Red Sox come calling, but there’s no evident reason to read that as more than a hypothetical. If anything, it seems the report stands for the proposition that the Friars are not going to be particularly amenable to considering packages consisting of multiple, far-off prospects. We recently rated Hand as one of the top ten players to watch at the trade deadline, but noted that the San Diego organization has little reason to simply take what it can get for a player who is under affordable control for a few more seasons after signing an appealingly priced extension over the winter.
- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is slated to return after one single rehab start, manager Dave Roberts told reporters, including Ken Gurnick of MLB.com (via Twitter). There’s more uncertainty surrounding Kershaw than ever before, just as he prepares for an offseason decision as to whether to opt out of the $65MM guarantee left on his contract, as Tim Dierkes discussed in his latest version of MLBTR’s 2018-19 free agent power rankings. Whatever Kershaw ultimately decides — to head onto the open market, work something else out with the Dodgers, or simply not opt out — will be dictated in no small part by his health the rest of the way. His showing over the next few weeks will also have a major influence over the club’s deadline efforts.
- Meanwhile, there’s less promising news on Dodgers lefty Tony Cingrani, also via Gurnick (on Twitter). Cingrani felt something in his shoulder last week and has had his rehab efforts slowed down for the time being. There’s no timetable on his return to the L.A. bullpen, creating even further uncertainty on the Dodgers’ pitching staff. Cingrani was lights-out for the Dodgers following a trade from the Reds last season, and while he’s been less effective thus far in 2018, his overall body of work since donning Dodger Blue has resulted in a 3.89 ERA and an impressive 64-to-12 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings.