Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels will “likely” return from the injured list Aug. 2 or 3 if he gets through one more rehab start unscathed, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets. Having suffered a left oblique strain June 28, it appears the 35-year-old will end up missing just over a month. The Cubs have tread water without Hamels, going 11-10 since he incurred his injury, which has been enough to stay atop the NL Central. They’re leading the division thanks in no small part to Hamels, who has recorded a 2.98 ERA/3.59 FIP with 8.76 K/9, 3.16 BB/9 and a 51.1 percent groundball rate in 99 2/3 innings.
More from around baseball…
- Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario has begun getting reps at first base at the urging of general manager Al Avila and assistant GM David Chadd, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News explains. The decision comes with Triple-A third baseman Dawel Lugo “likely” on his way back to the majors soon, infield prospect Isaac Paredes soaring through the Tigers’ system and right fielder Nicholas Castellanos a strong bet to leave before the trade deadline, McCosky notes. Once Castellanos is out of the picture, the Tigers figure to use at least one of their current first base options – Harold Castro and Brandon Dixon – in right. Candelario has only played one major league game at first, though the 25-year-old has lined up there 35 times in the minors. Regardless of position, this has been a disappointing season for Candelario – who, along with Paredes – joined the Tigers in a trade with the Cubs in July 2017. Candelario was a top 100 prospect who was immediately successful in the majors, but he has batted just .213/.309/.360 (79 wRC+) with seven home runs in 272 plate appearances this year. To his credit, though, Candelario has hit far better since the Tigers demoted him to Toledo on May 15 and then recalled him June 26.
- Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea – out since he underwent shoulder surgery last September – survived a 76-pitch rehab start with Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday, per Martin Gallegos of MLB.com. Manaea struggled over 4 1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs and three HRs, but the A’s are encouraged that he remains on track to return to the majors by the second week of August. In the meantime, Manaea’s scheduled for two more Triple-A starts. He’ll progress to 90 pitches in his next outing and then 100 in what should be his final minors start of the year. In further good news for Oakland, outfielder Stephen Piscotty is slated to begin a rehab stint over the weekend. A sprained right MCL has shelved Piscotty since June 30.
- Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy will start a rehab assignment at the High-A level Friday, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com relays. The Angels plan to re-evaluate Lucroy after he plays two games. The 33-year-old has been out since he bore the brunt of a brutal home plate collision with Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick on July 7. The league issued Marisnick a two-game suspension for plowing into Lucroy, who suffered a concussion and a broken nose. Lucroy also had to undergo surgery on his nasal fracture.
- Baseball America released its latest organizational talent rankings on Thursday (subscription required). Led by shortstop Wander Franco, whom BA ranks as the game’s best prospect, the Rays check in at No. 1. However, even without Franco, BA contends the Rays would still have baseball’s premier farm system. Beyond Franco, the club boasts eight other top 100 prospects. The Brewers don’t have any, on the other hand, making them the outlet’s last-ranked org. As BA points out, though, superb rookie second baseman Keston Hiura did just graduate from Milwaukee’s system.