MLB News and Notes June - 5

MLB News and Notes June - 5

Baseball Today - June 5
Tue, Jun 5, 2007
By Associated Press

SCOREBOARD Tuesday, June 5

L.A. Dodgers at San Diego (10:05 p.m. EDT). Jason Schmidt returns from the DL for the Dodgers.

STARS Monday

-Barry Zito, Giants, gave up one unearned run in six innings to win his third straight start in San Francisco's 8-1 victory over Philadelphia.

-Jon Garland, White Sox, gave up two runs - one earned - in 8 1-3 innings to help the Chicago White Sox top the New York Yankees 6-4.

-Alfonso Soriano, Cubs, had five hits, including a three-run homer, to help the Chicago Cubs defeat Milwaukee 7-2.

-Gary Matthews Jr., Angels, had four hits, including his third career grand slam, and five RBIs in the Los Angels Angels' 16-3 drubbing of Minnesota.

-Eric Chavez, Athletics, hit a two-out homer in the 11th inning to lift Oakland to a 5-4 win over Boston.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS FOR YANKS

The New York Yankees were defeated 6-4 by the Chicago White Sox on Monday but got some good news on the medical front. Roger Clemens' MRI exam in Tampa, Fla., revealed some disrupted scar tissue - nothing that should prevent him from starting Saturday against Pittsburgh. Andy Pettitte felt better after leaving Sunday's start against the Red Sox with a stiff lower back. He expects to pitch Friday against the Pirates.

CYCLE

Oakland's Mark Ellis became the first player to hit for the cycle against the Boston Red Sox since 1978 in the Athletics' 5-4, 11-inning victory on Monday. It was the 17th cycle in A's history dating back to 1901 and first since Eric Byrnes did it on June 29, 2003, against San Francisco.

SORIANO HEATING UP

Alfonso Soriano had his first five-hit game since Sept. 17, 2002, as a member of the New York Yankees, in the Chicago Cubs' 7-2 win over Milwaukee on Monday. Soriano has homered in each of his last three games and the win was the second in a row for the Cubs since manager Lou Piniella was ejected on Saturday and subsequently suspended four games for a tirade following a close call at third base.

ANGELS BEDEVILING OPPONENTS

The Los Angeles Angels pounded Minnesota 16-3 on Monday. Every starter in the Angels lineup had at least one hit and a run scored in the triumph. The Angels' 23 hits were the most the team has had since May 10, 2002, when they had 24 against the Chicago White Sox. The Angels are off to the best start in franchise history at 37-22 and are a major league-best 23-8 at home. They've won 15 of their last 19 overall.

SPEAKING

''My wife was very nervous. At the hotel, she was shaking.'' - Atlanta rookie Yunel Escobar, on the excitement of being called up to the major leagues last week. Escobar went 4-for-4 and hit his first career homer in the Braves' 6-4 loss to Florida on Monday.

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Yankees send DeSalvo back to Triple-A
June 4, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) -The New York Yankees optioned Matt DeSalvo back to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre after the right-hander got knocked out in the second inning of Monday's 6-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

DeSalvo allowed three runs - two earned - in 1 1-3 innings starting for Roger Clemens, who pushed back his season debut to Saturday against Pittsburgh because of back pain. The Yankees had recalled DeSalvo earlier in the day.

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Pirates demote Cota, call up Davis
June 4, 2007

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Outfielder Rajai Davis, on a 21-game hitting streak for Triple-A Indianapolis, was recalled by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night and catcher Humberto Cota was designated for assignment.

Davis, hitting .318 with four homers and 30 RBIs in 53 games for Indianapolis, is likely to platoon with Chris Duffy in center field for at least the short term after joining the Pirates in Washington on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Davis was only 2-for-14 (.143) during a brief callup last season, but manager Jim Tracy was told by the Indians' staff that the outfielder has made major improvements this season.

Davis was not in the lineup for the Indians on Monday night after extending his hitting streak Sunday with a leadoff home run in the first inning.

``We're going to give him an opportunity to play, to see what we have in him,'' Tracy said.

Cota has played little the last two seasons. He hit .190 with one extra-base hit in 100 at_bats last season and was hitting .286 in 14 at_bats this season. He can return to the Pirates only by going through waivers.

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Reitsma activated; Feierabend demoted
June 4, 2007

SEATTLE (AP) -The Seattle Mariners activated Chris Reitsma from the disabled list on Monday night before their game against the Baltimore Orioles.

The right-hander was placed on the DL with elbow inflammation on May 23, retroactive to May 19. He was 0-1 with a 4.86 earned run average with five walks and eight strikeouts in 16 relief appearances.

The Mariners sent Ryan Feierabend down to Triple-A Tacoma. He earned the win on Sunday in Seattle's 11-6 victory over Texas.

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Dodgers closer Saito may miss Padres series
June 4, 2007

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Los Angeles Dodgers closer Takashi Saito has tightness in his left hamstring and may miss a key three-game NL West series in San Diego that starts Tuesday night.

Saito, 16-for-16 in save conversions this season and 26-for-26 dating to the end of last season, could not pitch Monday night in Pittsburgh. Manager Grady Little expects him to be sidelined for two to three days ``in a best-case scenario.''

``Hopefully, Saito won't be out but for a few days, but we don't know yet,'' Little said.

The Dodgers aren't considering putting Saito on the 15-day disabled list because they expect him to be ready long before that. However, they do plan to make a move Tuesday to add another pitcher.

Jonathan Broxton, who has excelled as a setup man this season, will be the closer until Saito returns. Broxton is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 28 appearances, and his average of 10.55 strikeouts per nine innings is the sixth best among NL pitchers with at least 25 innings.

``We've got choices, and one of them weighs about 300 pounds,'' Little said, referring to the 6-foot-4 Broxton.

The Dodgers got a scare Sunday after Saito got the Pirates' Jose Bautista to swing and miss on a high fastball that made the count 2-2 with one out in the ninth. Saito walked off the back of the mound in discomfort. After consulting with a trainer, Saito was pulled and Joe Beimel got the final two outs of the 5-4 Dodgers victory.

Little thinks the hamstring injury might have been worse if Saito had continued to pitch.

``They feel like they caught it quick enough to where there wasn't a lot of damage,'' Little said.

Saito, 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 23 appearances, is developing into one of the majors' top closers. He has walked only two in 24 innings and has converted 40 of 42 save opportunities in his career, the best rate (95.2 percent) of any closer in major league history through that many games to start a career.

The Dodgers appear to be one of the best-equipped clubs to make up for a missing closer. Chad Billingsley is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA, and Rudy Seanez is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 17 games dating to April 19, the lowest ERA among Dodgers relievers since then.

``Everybody they bring in you think will be a closer,'' the Pirates' Adam LaRoche said. ``They have four or five guys, and they don't let up. And every one of them can throw it 94-95.''

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Devil Rays places Riggans on DL
June 4, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -The Tampa Bay Devil Rays placed backup catcher Shawn Riggans on the 15-day disabled list Monday with an injured right elbow and purchased the contract of catcher Raul Casanova from Triple-A Durham.

Riggans, recalled from Durham May 24 when catcher Josh Paul went on the DL with a strained left elbow, went 1-for-10 with two RBIs in three games.

Casanova hit .258 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 29 games at Durham. He has played all or parts of seven seasons in the majors, with the last stint coming with the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

To make room for Casanova on the 40-man roster, minor league left-handed pitcher Chris Seddon was designated for assignment. He was with Double-A Montgomery.

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Nationals reliever Wagner to have shoulder surgery
June 4, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) -Washington Nationals reliever Ryan Wagner will have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday.

Wagner traveled to Birmingham, Ala., on Monday for a second opinion on the shoulder, which has sidelined him for nearly a month. The Nationals will give an update on Wagner's prognosis following the surgery, which will be performed by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham.

Wagner was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 8, retroactive to May 7, with inflammation in his right rotator cuff. He has appeared in 14 games this season, going 0-2 with a 5.74 ERA.

Wagner also missed much of the 2005 season, when he was with the Cincinnati Reds, because of shoulder problems.

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Notes from Monday's AL games
June 4, 2007


KANSAS CITY: RHP Gil Meche, who has been bothered by back discomfort recently, is ready to resume a full-scale running and weightlifting program. ``My bad feels good,'' Meche said after pitching six-plus innings Monday. ... 3B Alex Gordon was back in the lineup after being rested Sunday and went 0-for-4. He is hitless in 18 at_bats, which has dropped his batting average to .172. ... RHP Joakim Soria (right shoulder inflammation) could be ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Thursday. ... RHP Luke Hochevar, taken first overall in the 2006 amateur draft, allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings for Double-A Wichita on Sunday.

TAMPA BAY: LF Carl Crawford hit his major league-best 66th triple since the start of the 2003 season in the eighth inning Monday. It was, however, just his fourth hit in the last 28 at_bats. ... The Devil Rays are 20-10 in games decided by three or less runs. They are 4-21 in games decided by more than three runs. ... 1B Carlos Pena has four homers in his last 10 home games. ... RHP Al Reyes saved Monday's 4-2 win over Kansas City, which extended his club record for consecutive successful save attempts to start the season to 14.


NEW YORK: Johnny Damon has been working out at first base, but manager Joe Torre said he won't play there anytime soon. ``It's not that we don't think he can handle it,'' he said. ``At this point, for him to play first, you'd have to find someone who'd be better-suited to DH. Right now, we don't have that person.'' Jason Giambi is out with a foot injury. Doug Mientkiewicz went on the disabled list Monday with a broken right wrist. That leaves Josh Phelps at first with Miguel Cairo as the backup. ... Torre said 3B Alex Rodriguez is due for a day off or a turn at DH soon. Rodriguez hit a solo homer on an 0-2 pitch from Jonathan Papelbon with two out in the ninth inning Sunday to lift the Yankees to a 6-5 victory over Boston. That came after a tumultuous week. Photos of the married slugger with a blonde woman were printed and he yelled something as he passed by two Blue Jays infielders, causing one of them to back off and let the ball drop. ``I've never been around a player who's had to deal with more issues,'' Torre said. ``I think sometimes it's unfair. The characterization about the popup: If Alex was the one that let that popup drop, he would have been the center of attention.''

CHICAGO: Looking to spark a slumping offense, manager Ozzie Guillen shook up the batting order on Monday. Paul Konerko, who is batting .218 with seven homers and 26 RBIs, was moved to the sixth spot and Joe Crede, hitting .221 with four home runs and 21 RBIs, batted ninth. ``I want to take the pressure away from them,'' Guillen said. ... The White Sox shook up their struggling bullpen Monday, optioning Mike MacDougal and David Aardsma to Triple-A Charlotte while purchasing the contracts of pitchers Ryan Bukvich and Bret Prinz from the minor league club. They also transferred utility player Pablo Ozuna from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. He has a fracture in his lower right leg and a shoulder injury. ... With his team 25-27 entering Monday's game, general manager Ken Williams is exploring his options. ``It's not too soon for me to make phone calls and inquires,'' Williams said. ``I'm a little less patient person than most. I've started to make calls.'' Williams added that he is not interested in acquiring prospects for players in the final year of their contracts.


BOSTON: Two Red Sox pitchers made significant strides in their return from injuries, starting both games for Triple-A Pawtucket's doubleheader Monday. LHP Jon Lester, who hasn't pitched for Boston this season since undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, pitched a seven-inning complete game for a 5-1 victory, yielding just four hits and one walk. RHP Mike Timlin then pitched the first two innings of the second game, allowing one hit and striking out two with just 21 pitches. ``We really wanted him to throw another inning,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said. ``The thought is to bring him back in a couple of days. I know there's some frustration on his part ... but it's the right thing to do.'' ... 2B Dustin Pedroia was in the right place to celebrate winning the AL Rookie of the Month award. Pedroia is a native on Woodland, Calif., about 80 miles from Oakland near Sacramento. ``I was here last year for a few games, but it's definitely exciting for my family and me,'' said Pedroia, who batted .415 with two homers and nine RBIs in May. He left 15 tickets for family, but many more friends went online to buy tickets. ... The Red Sox didn't get to their Bay Area hotel until 5:30 a.m. after losing to the Yankees in Boston on Sunday night. Naturally, this schedule quirk didn't sit well with Francona. ``The schedule, the way it is and with interleague play, we're not going to be able to field our (best) nine guys much on this trip,'' the manager said. ``That's just a fact. I'm probably going to have to sit Manny (Ramirez) when he has a good matchup against a great pitcher. I don't see any way around it. ... I would think at some point (major league baseball) would re-examine their thinking behind this and change it. That's a thought I had about 4:30 a.m.''

OAKLAND: RHP Rich Harden threw from 150 feet on Sunday, taking another small step in his return from a strained right shoulder. A's manager Bob Geren is optimistic Harden could be back on the roster in two weeks, though he probably would be in the bullpen while Oakland debates whether to return the injury-prone hurler to the rotation. ``If everything wen perfectly, he might be ready for an inning against St. Louis (June 15-17).'' ... Closer Huston Street did some agility drills Monday, and will begin a throwing program Wednesday in his return from an irritated nerve. ... OF Milton Bradley is day-to-day with a strained right calf. He wasn't in Monday's lineup.


MINNESOTA: 1B Justin Morneau was named the AL player of the month - an award that escaped him last season when he was named the league's MVP. ... CF Torii Hunter is in the walk year of a contract that is paying him $12 million this season, but is hasn't been a distraction for him. He entered Monday hitting .305 with 11 homers and a team-high 45 RBIs, and he's talking like he wants to stay with the Twins. ``Minnesota's everything to me, man. I've been there 14 seasons, and it's like home,'' said Hunter, who had a 23-game hitting streak earlier this year. ``I've been treated fairly, and hopefully I can stay there. But I know the business side of baseball, and my chances of coming back are pretty slim. I have no idea if they want me here or not. It's going to be their decision, not mine. I'm just going out there and having fun - no stress, no nothing. The fact that I'm a possible free agent is nothing to stress about. That's actually fun, because a lot of teams want you. I'm just playing the best way I know how, and I'm healthy. Don't forget - I hit 31 and 98 last year unhealthy.''

LOS ANGELES: RHP Justin Speier, who had to cut his minor league rehab assignment short because a recurrence of symptoms from an intestinal virus that has sidelined the reliever since April 30, threw a simulated game Monday at Angel Stadium. ``He's staying as close as he can to being ready,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``So when he feels like his strength is there and he's ready to go, I don't think it will be a huge jump to get him to be able to be able to pitch in a major league game for us.''

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Notes from Monday's NL games
June 4, 2007


SAN FRANCISCO: Barry Zito has not allowed an earned run in 16 innings. ... SS Omar Vizquel didn't start Monday because of a sinus infection. ... Catcher Bengie Molina said he's ``embarrassed'' by the team's 27-29 record. ``I hope other guys are too. Hopefully we can start winning some games now,'' he said. Molina was 8-for-22 on the road trip. He's batting .320. ... Matt Cain (2-5) takes the mound at Arizona on Tuesday night.

PHILADELPHIA: Jimmy Rollins had his 23rd multi-hit game of the season, including his third of three hits or more. ... Reliever Yoel Hernandez had his scoreless innings streak snapped at seven. ... The Phillies are 15-15 at home, 13-14 on the road. ... Jamie Moyer (5-4) opposes Tom Glavine on Tuesday night at Shea Stadium. It's the second time the two veteran left-handers faces each other this season. ... The Phillies are 2-7 when Jon Lieber starts. Manager Charlie Manuel said they have no plans to put Lieber back in the bullpen.


FLORIDA: The Marlins will juggle their pitching staff to work around Tuesday's doubleheader. RHP Sergio Mitre will start the first game, even though he's still hampered by a strained right hamstring from his last start. If Mitre is knocked out early and the Marlins are forced to use several relievers, they might make two roster moves before the nightcap. The already are planning to activate Rick Vanden Hurk to start Game 2. Another minor league pitcher will be at Turner Field, ready to step in if needed. Manager Fredi Gonzalez wants Mitre to be extra careful when he hits. ``I'm going to tell him if there's nobody on (base), don't even swing the bat,'' Gonzalez said.

ATLANTA: The Braves are still counting on John Smoltz to pitch the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Marlins. The ailing right-hander threw over the weekend in Chicago and believes he'll be fit enough to return to the rotation. Smoltz left his last start because of discomfort in his right shoulder and an injured right pinkie. He was scheduled to start Sunday against the Cubs, but wound up settling for a stint in the bullpen. Manager Bobby Cox hasn't settled on an alternative plan if Smoltz can't go. Another fill-in, Buddy Carlyle, already is scheduled to start the first game of the doubleheader. ``We'll piece it together,'' Cox said. ... In a sign of things to come, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was taking grounders at first base during batting practice. Manager Bobby Cox plans to try the rookie catcher at a new position, which would get him more at_bats and give Scott Thorman an occasional day off. Since cutting Craig Wilson, the Braves have lacked a true backup at first. ---

ATLANTA: The Braves are still counting on John Smoltz to pitch the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Marlins. The ailing right-hander threw over the weekend in Chicago and believes he'll be fit enough to return to the rotation. Smoltz left his last start because of discomfort in his right shoulder and an injured right pinkie. He was scheduled to start Sunday against the Cubs, but wound up settling for a stint in the bullpen. Manager Bobby Cox hasn't settled on an alternative plan if Smoltz can't go. Another fill-in, Buddy Carlyle, already is scheduled to start the first game of the doubleheader. ``We'll piece it together,'' Cox said. ... In a sign of things to come, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was taking grounders at first base during batting practice. Manager Bobby Cox plans to try the rookie catcher at a new position, which would get him more at_bats and give Scott Thorman an occasional day off. Since cutting Craig Wilson, the Braves have lacked a true backup at first. ---

DODGERS: Closer Takashi Saito will be out a minimum of two to three days with tightness in his left hamstring and may miss the three-game series in San Diego that starts Tuesday. ... With the Dodgers, Padres and Diamondbacks competing for the NL West lead, manager Grady Little said he doesn't need to remind his players of the importance of division games. But he also doesn't want to overemphasize games in early June, with two-thirds of the season remaining. ... RHP Jason Schmidt, out since mid-April with right shoulder bursitis, starts Tuesday night in San Diego. Because the Dodgers didn't anticipate getting home until the middle of the night following their Monday night game in Pittsburgh, Schmidt flew to San Diego on Monday.

PIRATES: Pirates closer Matt Capps' appeal of his four-game suspension for hitting the Brewers' Prince Fielder with a pitch will be Friday. Salomon Torres will be the closer while Capps is out, despite blowing each of his last two save opportunities. Manager Jim Tracy said, ``We need Salomon Torres, point blank. With over 100 games left, we need Salomon Torres, it's that simple.'' ... Tracy is concerned about the Pirates' inability at times to put away games. They couldn't hold a six-run lead on May 19 at home against Arizona, losing 9-8, and they wasted a four-run lead in the late innings of a 5-4 loss to Los Angeles on Sunday. They also lost a 2-0 lead Thursday at home against San Diego and went on to lose 3-2 in 11 innings. Tracy said, ``You certainly have to win your fair share of them. The trickle-down effect can be detrimental to a ballclub.''


CHICAGO: Chicago's three-game series with Milwaukee will be its only series against a division opponent until a three-game set at Wrigley Field against the Brewers June 29-July 1. The Cubs play 18 straight games outside of their division from Thursday to June 27. ... Chicago plays Milwaukee 15 times this season, with 12 of the games before the All-Star Break. ... This series is the last time the Cubs will visit Milwaukee this season.

MILWAUKEE: Prince Fielder was named National League player of the month for May after he hit .321 with 13 homers and 28 RBI. He is the second Brewers' player to win the award since the squad joined the N.L. in 1998. Jeromy Burnitz won the award in June 1999. ... Milwaukee has the lowest winning percentage of any division leader but owns the second-largest lead of any division leader. Only Boston has a bigger lead.

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Rockies designate Finley for assignment

Denver, CO (Sports Network) - The Colorado Rockies announced on Tuesday that veteran outfielder Steve Finley has been designated for assignment.

The 42-year-old Finley, who signed a minor league deal with Colorado in the offseason, hit just .181 with one home run and two RBI in 43 games this season.

The Rockies now have 10 days to trade, release or send Finley outright to the minor leagues.

To take Finley's spot on the roster, Colorado purchased the contract of outfielder Sean Barker from Triple-A Colorado Springs. In 45 games this season in the minors, Barker hit .333 with five homers and 30 RBI.

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Tigers activate Rodney

Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers activated relief pitcher Fernando Rodney from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday.

Rodney had been sidelined since May 21 because of biceps tendinitis.

The right-hander has appeared in 19 games this season for the Tigers, posting a record of 1-4 with one save and a 4.71 earned run average. He has 18 strikeouts in just 21 innings.

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