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MLB News and Notes September 23

MLB News and Notes September 23

Notes from Saturday's games
September 22, 2007

OAKLAND: Manager Bob Geren said RHP Rich Harden (1-2, 2.45 ERA), limited to only 25 2-3 innings all season by an inflamed right shoulder, will not start Sunday. Harden threw a simulated game Friday and said that while he didn't feel pain, he decided it was not worth risking further injury. ``I'd love to be out there, but there's no sense in possibly doing damage in two starts - for what? - in games that don't mean anything,'' Harden said. He's scheduled to visit Dr. Lewis Yokum, the Los Angeles Angels' medical director, next week. ``We just want to make sure everything is OK,'' Harden said, adding that he plans to pitch in the Winter Instructional League. Harden went 4-0 in only nine games in 2006, spending time on the disabled list with a strained back and then a strained elbow ligament. He went 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA in three April starts this season before experiencing shoulder discomfort and being shut down until June 20. He has not pitched since July 7, when he lasted only 2 2-3 innings against Seattle. ... CF Nick Swisher returned from a three-game suspension for charging Texas pitcher Vicente Padilla on Sunday. ... LHP Dallas Braden (1-7) will take Harden's place. ... The A's have used the DL 22 times, tying the Oakland record set in 1992. Eleven of the 22 have spent time on the 60-day DL.
CLEVELAND: The Indians have not commented on the possible departure of Neal Huntington, special assistant to general manager Mark Shapiro, who is reportedly about to be hired as Pittsburgh's GM. Media reports in the Pittsburgh area say Huntington will take over the Pirates, who fired former GM Dave Littlefield after six-plus seasons on Sept. 7. The 37-year-old Huntington, who began his career in Montreal's organization, has been with the Indians since 1998. He was director of the club's minor league operations for one year and has been in his current position as an assistant under Shapiro since 2001. ... News that Barry Bonds' days are over in San Francisco hadn't reached Indians manager Eric Wedge. Told there might be a ``big DH on the market,'' Wedge feigned ignorance. ``Who's that?'' Wedge said. ``I don't know what I'm supposed to say.'' After a long pause, Wedge came up with a good retort. ``We got ours,'' Wedge said, referring to Travis Hafner. ... RHP Fausto Carmona, 23, is trying to become the youngest pitcher to lead the AL in ERA since Dave Righetti (22) did it for the New York Yankees in 1981.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said that he expects DH Gary Sheffield to be in top shape for spring training despite a nagging shoulder injury. ``He's going to make the adjustments that he needs to make in order to be ready,'' he said. ``I expect him to be as strong as a bull.'' ... Curtis Granderson led off Saturday's game with his seventh leadoff homer of the season, breaking the franchise record he set last season. ... Kenny Rogers had allowed two or fewer runs in each of three starts since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 5, but gave up five in the two innings to the Royals on Saturday.

Emil Brown's two-run single in Saturday's first inning ended a 2-for-22 slump against Tigers starter Kenny Rogers. Mark Grudzielanek's singles in the first two innings raised his career average against Rogers to .688 (11-for-16), including eight hits in his last nine at_bats. ... Jason Smith hit the 17th homer of his career Friday night, 16 of which have come on the road. Dick Groat, Hank Aaron and Eddie Yost are the only other players to hit 16 of their first 17 homers on the road. ... Jason LaRue entered Saturday's game hitting 5-for-63 (.079) in his previous 25 games, lowering his season average to .153.

BOSTON: Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, Sunday's scheduled starter, is 9-0 in 13 career starts at Tropicana Field. The right-hander's overall record against Tampa Bay is 19-2. The 19 wins is most by any Tampa Bay opponent. ... LF Manny Ramirez (strained left oblique) was out of the lineup for the 23rd straight game. He still feels discomfort while running, but played catch and took batting practice Saturday. There is no timetable for his return.

LF Carl Crawford (strained left groin) was out of the lineup for the fifth consecutive game. His status for the rest of the season should be determined in the next couple days. ... 2B Brendan Harris, who has been out since Tuesday with a strained left lat muscle, is availble off the bench.

BALTIMORE: OF Jay Payton returned from a two-day suspension for throwing his bat and helmet after he was ejected for arguing earlier this week. He batted eighth and started in left field. ... Manager Dave Trembley met before the game with C Ramon Hernandez, who hadn't started the previous two games. Hernandez was in Saturday's starting lineup, but J.R. House will start Sunday's series finale against the Rangers. Trembley said the meeting was ``very positive.''

TEXAS: Manager Ron Washington expressed his desire to have a veteran closer on the team next year. Since the Rangers traded Eric Gagne to Boston before the trading deadline, LHP C.J. Wilson and RHP Joaquin Benoit have shared the closers role. But both pitchers have only been setup men in the past. ``I'm not saying that one day that C.J. or Benoit may not be able to close,'' Washington said. ``You can't take a guy and throw him in that position. They have to earn their way to that position.'' ... Washington said RHP Brandon McCarthy (forearm tendinitis) is scheduled to make his next start Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels.

CHICAGO: DH Jim Thome hit career homer No. 504 on Saturday, moving him into a tie with Eddie Murray for 22nd on baseball's all-time list. Thome and Murray played together with the Indians from 1994-96. ``He's one of the all-time greatest players,'' Thome said. ``It's kind of one of those things you don't really stop and think about, but once people mention it to you, it's pretty cool.'' ... 3B Andy Gonzalez needed two stitches for a cut he got on his right hand on a play at the base in the seventh inning. Gonzalez came out of the game, and Josh Fields will play 3B on Sunday. ... Rookie CF Jerry Owens had a career-high five hits Saturday. ``As an individual, it's kind of like an audition,'' he said. ``I'm trying to make a name for myself and establish a spot on the team next year.'' ... RHP Javier Vazquez had 11 strikeouts to boost his season total to 204 - the most he's had since 2003. ``It looks good on the back of your card, I guess. It's not indicative of how you've pitched. A lot of people don't strike out hitters and have good seasons,'' he said.

MINNESOTA: RHP Scott Baker flew home to Louisiana after Saturday's start to tend to a family issue, but manager Ron Gardenhire said Baker was removed as a precaution after the second inning. A line drive hit him on the back of the hand, and he finished the inning despite some numbness. ... The Twins fell behind 9-8 in the season series with the White Sox after losing 8-3 on Saturday. ``They like to beat us. We like to beat them. They definitely beat us up pretty good today,'' INF Nick Punto said. ... LHP Johan Santana was named this year's recipient of the Carl R. Pohlad Award for community service. ... 35-year-old LF Rondell White and his wife, Zanovia, became parents for the first time. Their daughter, Zayia, was born Friday night.

Zach Duke lasted only four innings, throwing 84 pitches in his first start since June 28. But he wasn't completely discouraged by his outing, just his second since coming off the DL with a sore elbow. He also pitched in relief. ``I felt really good out there,'' Duke said. `` I made a few mistakes and they didn't miss them. ... I definitely feel like the quality of my pitches was better. I just left a few up.'' He will probably get another start before the season ends. ... Duke is now 4-2 lifetime against the Cubs. In seven previous starts against Chicago, he had an ERA of 1.57 but was tagged for five runs - four earned - in his four innings. ... 2B Freddy Sanchez made an error for the second straight game and now has nine for the season. ... The Pirates will turn to their third straight lefty Sunday in the season finale against the Cubs when Tom Gorzelanny, a 14-game winner, faces Carlos Zambrano. Gorzelanny is 1-1 against the Cubs this season with a 1.29 ERA in two starts. He was born in the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park.

CHICAGO: Sam Fuld made a spectacular play in the seventh inning. The rookie right fielder crashed into the wall while hauling in Nyjer Morgan's line drive and then turned around and made a perfect one-hop peg to first to double off Nate McLouth and end the inning. Fuld, a late-season callup, got a big ovation from the fans in the right-field bleachers in the next inning and a standing ovation when he came to bat in the bottom of the inning and drew a walk. ``How about that play?'' manager Lou Piniella said. ... Steve Trachsel threw in a simulated game after Saturday's win and will get the nod Thursday in Florida against the Marlins. He was bumped out of the rotation when the Cubs went with a four-man setup. ... Carlos Marmol extended his scoreless streak to 22 1-3 innings over 18 outings with an inning of hitless relief. ... Alfonso Soriano has four multihomer games this season and 19 for his career. He's reached 30 homers three straight seasons and five times in his career. ... Aramis Ramirez reached 100 RBIs for the fifth time in his career.

NEW YORK: Gametime temperature Saturday afternoon in Miami was 89 degrees. ``It's going to be a hot day,'' RHP Pedro Martinez shouted to teammates in the clubhouse before the game. ``I'll see you guys in the fifth inning.'' ... LHP Oliver Perez lowered in ERA in Miami from 7.07 to 4.91 in four starts.

FLORIDA: The eight unearned runs the Marlins allowed Friday were a franchise record. ... SS Hanley Ramirez went 1-for-4 Saturday and is hitting .250 in day games. At night he's hitting .360.

MILWAUKEE: LHP Chris Capuano will start Sunday in place of Ben Sheets. The decision was made after Sheets threw on the side before Saturday's game. Sheets left Tuesday night's game in Houston after one inning, and an MRI exam found a mild strain of his left hamstring. Capuano earned his last win on May 7 against Washington. Since then, he has lost a franchise-record 12 straight decisions. His last four appearances have come in relief. .... RHP Yovani Gallardo's 21-inning scoreless streak ended when he gave up a first-inning run.

ATLANTA: Chipper Jones drove in two runs, giving him 98 RBIs. He posted eight straight seasons with at least 100 RBIs from 1996-2003. ... RHP Octavio Dotel made his first appearance since Aug. 7. He returned from a shoulder injury to strike out Rickie Weeks in the 10th inning. ... RHP Joey Devine earned his first career win and Pete Orr stole his first base of the year.

HOUSTON: Interim manager Cecil Cooper said RHP Woody Williams, who volunteered to go to the bullpen in the final weeks of the season, would get an inning Saturday night. Williams hadn't pitched since his last start on Sept. 13. ... The Astros envisioned a half-dozen starts this month for rookie C J.R. Towles before he had a team-record eight RBIs on Thursday and hit a key two-run double Friday. Towles, who also made a nice defensive play to prevent a wild pitch, made his third straight start on Saturday and sixth overall. ``I'm going to keep running him out there,'' Cooper said. ... Other prospects are getting a lot of playing time, and impressing to the point where perhaps several could be on the opening-day roster next year. The list includes CF Josh Anderson, IF Cody Ransom and relievers Dennis Sarfate and Stephen Randolph. Cooper envisions Sarfate, who can throw near 100 mph, in a late-inning combination with closer Brad Lidge and Chad Qualls.

ST. LOUIS: Albert Pujols (strained left calf muscle) missed his fourth straight start, but could play Sunday. Manager Tony La Russa had two lineup cards, one with Pujols hitting third and one with Ryan Ludwick in that spot, before deciding to wait another day. Pujols walked with the bases loaded as a pinch-hitter on Friday. ``He's making some progress,'' La Russa said. ... OF Chris Duncan is back with the team after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia on Thursday. He said the operation found injuries on both sides, increasing his recovery time two weeks to 10 weeks. ... CF Jim Edmonds, bothered by a groin injury, likely will be limited to pinch-hit duty the rest of the year.

PHILADELPHIA: 2B Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a first-inning home run. It's the longest streak for a Phillies player this season. In 2006, Utley had a 35-game hitting streak. ... SS Jimmy Rollins had his 200th hit on Friday. He's the only player to have 200 hits, 15 triples, 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases in a season. ... The Phillies will be the final opponent for the Nationals in RFK Stadium on Sunday. It will be the second time in five years that they've closed a stadium. In 2002, they were the final opponents for Cincinnati at Cinergy Field.

WASHINGTON: Nationals 1B Dmitri Young hasn't played since getting hit by a hard one-hopper off the bat of Atlanta's Mark Teixeira on Sept. 15, and may not play the rest of the season. ``I had a headache for a while, but that went away. I have to be cautious with it. I gave it a good run - better luck next year,'' Young said. ... OF Wily Mo Pena did not start in Saturday's game. He was hit in the right hand with a pitch by Philadelphia's Adam Eaton in the fifth inning of Friday's game and was forced to leave. He had a bruised right hand and may be out a few days, manager Manny Acta said.

CINCINNATI: RHP Aaron Harang (16-4) goes for his career-high 17th win in Sunday's series finale. He is 11-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 22 starts since May 25. ... By winning the first two games of this series, the Reds are assured of having at least a .500 record under interim manager Pete Mackanin. Cincinnati was 40-32 heading into Saturday's game since Mackanin replaced Jerry Narron on July 1, with only eight games remaining this season.

Barry Bonds remained sidelined with a sprained right toe and did not know when he'd be able to play. Manager Bruce Bochy hopes his slugger will be back before Wednesday's home finale, to have one final game as a Giant in San Francisco. ``You just want the opportunity for Barry and for the fans to connect one more time before he says goodbye,'' Bochy said. ``That would be a special moment. Everybody knows what he's done for the organization, for the city. I know the fans would like to see him one more time before he moves on. If he's healthy and able to go, he'll be out there.'' ... LHP Travis Blackley will make his Giants debut when he starts Sunday's game. ``This is a great opportunity for him with what's opened up here in the rotation,'' Bochy said. ``It allows him to show what he can do in the major leagues, it allows us to take a look at him. Anytime you get this opportunity, you hope the pitcher takes advantage of it and shows what he can do.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 23

Rangers shut down Kameron Loe for rest of season because of sore right elbow

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers starter Kameron Loe will not pitch the rest of the season because of a sore right elbow.

The right-handed Loe (6-11) is second on the team with 136 innings and 23 starts.

''It's disappointing,'' Loe said. ''I would like to have gotten a couple of more starts. But there's no reason to risk it.''

Loe last pitched Sept. 3 against the Kansas City Royals. That start lasted just three innings because of the injury.

Loe threw a bullpen session Wednesday, but his elbow was still bothering him and the Rangers elected to shut him down for the year.

''He was still experiencing discomfort,'' Texas manager Ron Washington said. ''There wasn't much more you can do.''

The Rangers used Loe out of the bullpen to open the season before he made his first start on April 21.

Loe was 1-6 in early June when he was briefly sent down to the minors. He won his first four starts after returning from Triple-A Oklahoma.

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 23

Thomas, Marcum, Downs leave Blue Jays game with injuries

NEW YORK -- Frank Thomas and starting pitcher Shaun Marcum left Toronto's game Saturday against the New York Yankees, each with a sore right knee.

Left-handed reliever Scott Downs also departed with an injury, a strained back.

Thomas trotted off the field after a fifth-inning single, his second hit of the game. The designated hitter, who has 512 career home runs, was lifted for pinch-runner John-Ford Griffin.

Griffin was called up from the minors earlier in the day.

Marcum left his start after three innings and was replaced by left-hander Brian Tallet with the Blue Jays leading 3-1.

Marcum, a pleasant surprise for Toronto this season, received a no-decision. The right-hander is 12-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 38 appearances, including 25 starts. He also has one save.

Downs entered in the sixth inning and immediately allowed a two-run single to Hideki Matsui that gave the Yankees a 6-3 lead. Downs bent over on the mound, then walked off the field with a trainer. He was replaced by Brandon League, who got as much time as he needed to warm up.

Perhaps a wet field was a factor in the players getting hurt. The start of the game was delayed 92 minutes because of rain.

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 23

New York Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge drops appeal of 3-game suspension
September 22, 2007

MIAMI (AP) -New York Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge dropped his appeal of a three-game suspension and began serving it Saturday at Florida.
Major League Baseball suspended Milledge for arguing Thursday with umpire Jim Joyce. Milledge initially sought to have the length of the suspension reduced but decided to drop the appeal, saying he would rather sit out now than closer to the end of the season next weekend.

``I want to be there toward the tail end,'' he said. ``I think this is the best time to take it. I thought the three-game suspension was a little harsh, but for my team I'll take it.''

Upset about two calls, the Mets' excitable outfielder was ejected after he flied out. He went into the dugout, then returned to the field, resumed his argument with Joyce and had to be restrained by coach Rickey Henderson.

Milledge said he shouldn't have gone back on the field.

``I was pretty mad. I was all over the place,'' he said. ``But it's tough right now, because everything is so personal with us trying to get in the playoffs. Everything seems so key. Every pitch of every at-bat is really, really crucial. We're so fired up.''

The Mets went into Saturday's game with a 1 1/2-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East.

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