New York Mets: Series preview
July, 20, 2014
Getty ImagesThe Mets are expected to face Roenis Elias, Erasmo Ramirez and Hisashi Iwakuma in Seattle.
Monday: LHP Jonathon Niese (5-4, 2.96) vs. LHP Roenis Elias (7-8, 4.54), 10:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (3-5, 3.18) vs. RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 4.58), 10:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-8, 4.12) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 2.95), 3:40 p.m. ET
Mariners short hops
• Ex-Yankee Robinson Cano, who has battled hamstring issues throughout the season, asked for Sunday’s series finale off against the Los Angeles Angels because of continued tightness. He had played 28 innings over the previous two days. Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million deal in December. Of course, agent Jay Z first dined with Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon. Cano’s .335 average ranks second in the American League, trailing Houston’s Jose Altuve by a point. Cano, 31, also has seven homers and 57 RBIs and a .394 on-base percentage in 404 plate appearances. Willie Bloomquist started Sunday in place of Cano at second base.
• After facing Odrisamer Despaigne on Sunday in San Diego, the Mets will see a second straight Cuban rookie in the series opener in Seattle. Roenis Elias, 25, is 7-8 with a 4.54 ERA in 19 starts. Elias reportedly defected four years ago aboard a raft after a middling, brief career in his native country. He spent 30 hours at sea before landing in Mexico.
• Closer Fernando Rodney, bidding for his 200th career save, failed to convert the five-out opportunity Sunday in a 6-5 walk-off loss to the Angels. Rodney still has an AL-leading 27 saves.
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsHoward Johnson is the hitting coach for the Mariners.
• Logan Morrison and Justin Smoak have split the first-base duties of late, with neither putting up acceptable numbers. Smoak (.210) had spent more than three weeks on the DL with a left quadriceps strain, then was optioned to Triple-A on July 4 when deemed healthy. He returned when right fielder Michael Saunders landed on the DL a week later. Morrison, who was acquired from the Miami Marlins in December, is hitting only .222 with five homers in 144 at-bats.
• The Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays reportedly are in discussions regarding David Price and Ben Zobrist.
• Seattle’s coaching staff has a distinct Mets accent. Hitting coach Howard Johnson formerly held that role with the Mets and was a central piece of the 1986 championship club. Pitching coach Rick Waits formerly was minor-league pitching coordinator for the Mets. Rich Donnelly managed the Brooklyn Cyclones the past three seasons. He was hired by the Mariners to manage Triple-A and ascended to the major league staff when John Stearns, another ex-Met, had to step down as third-base coach because of a slow recovery from hernia surgery. Mariners infield coach Chris Woodward played for the Mets in 2005 and ’06. Even Seattle bullpen catcher Jason Phillips is an ex-Met, having played for the club from 2001 through ’04.
The connections don’t stop there. Endy Chavez is a backup outfielder.
• Ex-Met John Buck, who was backing up Mike Zunino, was released during the All-Star break. He was hitting .226 with one homer and six RBIs in 84 at-bats.
• The Mets will miss facing Felix Hernandez during the series. He possesses an AL-best 2.02 ERA. They also will miss ex-Mets right-hander Chris Young, who pitched Sunday. Young is 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts).
• Shortstop Nick Franklin, who became expendable in a trade once the Mariners signed Cano and committed to using Brad Miller at shortstop, has struggled after a torrid start at Triple-A this season. The 23-year-old Franklin was 6-for-47 at the major league level during cameos in April and May with the club. He currently is back in the Pacific Coast League. Miller, meanwhile, is hitting only .204.
July, 16, 2014
USA TODAY SportsThe Mets open the second half facing Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Odrisamer Despaigne in San Diego.
Friday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47), 10:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-1, 2.56) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (7-10, 2.85), 8:40 p.m. ET
Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (5-8, 3.90) vs. RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 1.35), 4:10 p.m. ET
Padres short hops
• The Padres fired GM Josh Byrnes on June 22 and are currently being led by Omar Minaya, A.J. Hinch and Fred Uhlman Jr. in an interim capacity. The reported list of interviewees who remain under consideration to succeed Byrnes include former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, Diamondbacks director of scouting Ray Montgomery, MLB senior VP Kim Ng, Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller and Padres assistant GM Josh Stein.
• Padres legend Tony Gwynn died June 16. The team’s uniforms now include a patch featuring a No. 19 inside the logo of a home plate, which is being worn over the players’ hearts. The team already had a patch recognizing Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman, who died Jan. 5 at age 89.
• Although neither pitched, right-hander Tyson Ross and closer Huston Street represented the Padres at Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Street actually was selected late to replace Ross, who started San Diego’s first-half finale and was ineligible.
Ross, 27, became the first Padres starting pitcher selected to the team since Jake Peavy in 2007. In his final five starts of the first half, Ross posted a 1.75 ERA and opponents had only a .229 OBP against him. He nonetheless went 1-4 during that stretch. Since June 6, the Padres have scored a total of eight runs in his eight starts.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Ross has induced an MLB-high 164 swings and misses with his slider this season. He throws the pitch 39.4 percent of the time, also the most in the majors among qualified pitchers.
Lenny Ignelzi/Associated PressSeth Smith signed a two-year, $13 million contract extension.
• San Diego signed outfielder Seth Smith to a two-year, $13 million extension that includes a $7 million team option for 2017. He otherwise would have been eligible for free agency this offseason and would have been traded this month. Smith, 31, was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in December for reliever Luke Gregerson. He is hitting .283 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs and has a .387 OBP this season.
• Third baseman Chase Headley, who is eligible for free agency this winter, should be on the move by the end of the month. The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly are among the teams interested. Headley is earning $10.5 million in 2014. Although he is hitting only .226 for the season, the 30-year-old Headley does have a .327 average with one homer and six RBIs in 12 starts in July. Headley told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the production uptick coincides with a grip adjustment with his bat in which the fingers overlap. Headley used that grip for most of his career before abandoning it. “It’s just an overlap,” he told the newspaper. “Not a golf grip, but similar.”
• Left fielder Carlos Quentin is hitting .145 (8-for-55) with one homer since June 17.
• Ian Kennedy has 133 strikeouts, trailing only Washington’s Stephen Strasburg (149) and Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (141) in the National League. Kennedy’s strikeout total was the second-most in franchise history before the All-Star break. Andy Benes had 138 strikeouts in the first half in 1994. The Los Angeles Angels reportedly are interested in acquiring Kennedy, who is under San Diego’s control for another season.
• Second baseman Jedd Gyorko (plantar fasciitis) and shortstop Everth Cabrera (hamstring) closed the first half on the disabled list.
• Cuban defector Odrisamer Despaigne, 27, has a 1.35 ERA in four starts since making his major league debut on June 23. His fastball averages 90.7 mph and cutter averages 87.1 mph. He defected in June 2013 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris while the Cuban team was en route to a tournament in the Netherlands. He received a $1 million bonus to sign with the Padres on May 2.
July, 11, 2014
Getty ImagesBefore heading into the All-Star break, the Mets are due to face the Marlins' Henderson Alvarez, Tom Koehler and Brad Hand.
Friday: RHP Zack Wheeler (4-8, 4.07) vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez (6-3, 2.27), 7:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-3, 3.32) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (6-7, 3.98), 4:10 p.m. ET
Sunday: RHP Jacob deGrom (2-5, 3.38) vs. LHP Brad Hand (0-1, 5.09), 1:10 p.m. ET
Marlins short hops
• Outfielder Marcell Ozuna has hit safely in 15 straight games, during which he has produced a .368 average (21-for-57) with three homers and eight RBIs. The hitting streak is one shy of matching his career high, produced last season. Ozuna’s two-run homer against Addison Reed in the ninth inning on Tuesday gave Miami a 2-1 win at Arizona.
Of course, Ozuna had two outfield assists in the final two innings on June 20, during the last series against the Mets, in order to preserve a Miami win. He became the third player in Marlins history with two outfield assists at the plate in the same game, joining Joe Orsulak and Emilio Bonifacio. Like Orsulak, both of Ozuna’s throws did not require a relay.
The 23-year-old Ozuna has 15 homers and 51 RBIs in 326 at-bats this season.
• Closer Steve Cishek blew only his third save in 23 chances Wednesday at Arizona. The Diamondbacks scored three runs in the bottom of the 10th, capped by Paul Goldschmidt’s two-run double, in a 4-3 walk-off win. It marked the first time in Cishek’s career that he failed to record at least one out in a save situation.
Associated Press, Getty ImagesChristian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton form a standout young triumvirate for the Marlins in the outfield.
Despite his recent slump, Stanton still leads the National League with 21 homers and 63 RBIs. His 4.9 WAR is second in the NL, trailing only Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki (5.7).
• Alvarez produced three hits Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals. He is a career .269 hitter, with one homer and seven RBIs in 67 at-bats. On the mound, Alvarez is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA since May 22. He has allowed only one home run during that nine-start span -- a solo shot by Kolten Wong on Sunday.
The Marlins have won Alvarez’s last 10 starts, a franchise record. The previous record? The Marlins won nine straight starts by Chris Hammond back in 1993, their inaugural season, when they finished 64-98 overall.
Alvarez’s 2.27 ERA ranks fourth in the league, trailing only St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright (1.79), Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (2.03) and L.A.’s Josh Beckett (2.26).
• McGehee’s 112 hits are tied for the NL lead with the Mets’ Daniel Murphy and Giants’ Hunter Pence. The lone player in Marlins history to lead the league in hits at the All-Star break was Luis Castillo in 2002. McGehee and Stanton are the first Marlins teammates with 100 hits apiece before the All-Star break since Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu in 2008.
After spending last year in Japan, the 31-year-old McGehee is hitting .320 with one homer and 53 RBIs in 350 at-bats this season. His 52 RBIs as a third baseman already are the most by a Marlin at that position since Cantu finished ’08 with 70.
• Left-hander Brad Hand has made two starts since getting activated from the disabled list and entering the rotation July 3. He is winless in his past 14 appearances as a starter, the third-longest active streak in the majors, despite allowing only one unearned run in 6 1/3 innings on Tuesday at Arizona. His last win as a starter came July 7, 2011 against the Houston Astros.
Hand, who mostly has been ineffective while serving in long relief this season, had landed on the DL with a right ankle sprain.
• Two days after Hand returned from the DL, rookie Andrew Heaney was demoted to Triple-A New Orleans. Heaney had limited the Mets to one run in six innings in his major league debut on June 19, but had allowed 14 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings over his next three starts.
• Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (right triceps strain) returned from the disabled list on Sunday.
• Left fielder Christian Yelich is batting .356 (16-for-45) with one homer and five RBIs in 10 games since returning from the disabled list, where he had landed with a lower-back strain.
• After getting reinjured during the last Mets series, Rafael Furcal landed on the DL on June 22 with a left hamstring strain. Derek Dietrich initially took over at second base, but he landed on the DL on July 4 with a right wrist strain. Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas since have started at the position.
July, 6, 2014
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsTommy La Stella, a native of Closter, N.J., has taken over at second base for the Braves.
Monday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-3, 3.72) vs. LHP Mike Minor (2-5, 4.73), 7:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-5, 3.77) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (8-5, 2.29), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (3-1, 2.73) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (7-5, 3.93), 7:10 p.m. ET
Thursday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-7, 4.04) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (8-6, 3.67), 7:10 p.m. ET
Braves short hops
• With a 3-1 victory Sunday at Turner Field, the Arizona Diamondbacks snapped Atlanta’s season-high nine-game winning streak. The Braves had been bidding for their third straight series sweep, after winning four straight at Philadelphia and then three games against the Mets at Turner Field. The bullpen allowed one earned run in 22 2/3 innings during the winning streak.
• Gerald Laird returned to the starting lineup Friday after missing last week’s Mets series to rest a strained right oblique. Christian Bethancourt handled the catching duties against the Mets and figures to continue to get the bulk of the starts, even with Laird now available. The rookie has performed solidly since his call-up nine days ago, hitting .292.
No. 1 catcher Evan Gattis (.290, 16 HR, 39 RBIs) landed on the DL on June 29 with a bulging disk in his back. He subsequently received an epidural injection and remains sidelined. Gattis continues to experience tightness.
Alex Brandon/Associated PressJason Heyward was ESPN's Defensive Player of the Month for June.
• Center fielder B.J. Upton had a career-high 11-game hitting streak snapped Sunday. The hitting streak coincided with becoming the team’s leadoff hitter.
• Reigning NL Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons was installed in the No. 2 spot in the batting order beginning June 27. He is hitting .340 (17-for-50) in 12 starts in that slot.
• Right-hander Julio Teheran, first baseman Freddie Freeman and closer Craig Kimbrel will represent Atlanta in the July 15 All-Star Game at Minnesota. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been selected to serve on NL manager Mike Matheny’s staff.
Freeman has played all but two innings for the Braves this season.
Kimbrel struck out all three batters he faced in recording last Tuesday’s save against the Mets. It marked the fifth time this season and 24th time in Kimbrel’s career that he faced at least three batters in an appearance and struck out each one. Kimbrel has struck out 43 percent of the batters he has faced in his career, the highest percentage in major league history among relievers with at least 150 saves. Billy Wagner ranks second at 33 percent.
Kimbrel’s 89.7 career save percentage (166-for-185) ranks third all time among relievers with at least 150 chances, trailing only Eric Gagne (91.7 percent) and John Smoltz (91.1).
• The Braves are the youngest team in the National League. Their average age on Opening Day was 27 years, 255 days.
• Dan Uggla (.163, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 39 Ks in 129 at-bats) has been relegated to the bench. He has started only two games since May 23. Uggla is earning $13 million this season. He also is under contract for 2015 at $13 million.
Rookie Tommy La Stella -- a Closter, N.J., native and product of St. Joseph High School in Montvale -- has taken over the position. La Stella, 25, got off to a quick start. He then became mired in an 0-for-23 skid until rebounding.
La Stella (.294) had been installed as the leadoff hitter beginning June 18, but he subsequently was moved to No. 2 and then No. 7. He has three straight multi-hit games. La Stella spent his freshman year of college playing at St. John’s before transferring to Coastal Carolina.
• Right-handed reliever David Carpenter was activated from the DL on Wednesday. He had landed on the DL on June 17 with a strained biceps. Ex-Mets reliever Pedro Beato, who had been promoted to replace Carpenter, landed on the DL two days later with a right elbow strain.
• Mike Minor is 0-2 with a 4.46 ERA in his last eight starts. He allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Mets last week.
July, 3, 2014
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesRain in Baltimore on Thursday means Yu Darvish now faces the Mets in Friday's series opener at Citi Field.
Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (5-4, 2.88) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (8-4, 2.42), 7:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.88) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (5-5, 5.71), 7:15 p.m. ET
Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-8, 4.25) vs. RHP Nick Tepesch* (3-3, 3.65), 1:10 p.m. ET
* officially TBA
Rangers short hops
• With rain delaying the start by 56 minutes and threatening to interrupt Thursday’s Rangers series finale in Baltimore, manager Ron Washington decided to delay Yu Darvish’s scheduled start until Friday, pushing him into the Mets series. There never was a stoppage once the game began at Camden Yards.
Darvish, 27, has an MLB-best 11.04 strikeouts per nine innings. He ranks third in the American League in ERA at 2.42, trailing only the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez (2.10) and Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka (2.27). Darvish snapped a two-start losing streak by tossing eight scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
• Texas leads the majors in uses of the DL (20) and current players on the DL (14). The absences include Prince Fielder (herniated disk), Mitch Moreland (ankle), Derek Holland (knee surgery), Jurickson Profar (shoulder), Geovany Soto (knee), Alexi Ogando (elbow), Tanner Scheppers (elbow) and Engel Beltre (fractured tibia).
Fielder, who had season-ending surgery for the neck issue on May 27, had been acquired during the offseason from the Detroit Tigers with $30 million for Ian Kinsler. Texas reportedly will recoup 50 percent of Fielder’s salary via an insurance policy that carried over from the Tigers, after a 90-day deductible period.
Soto, who underwent surgery, is due to begin a rehab assignment shortly. Beltre, an outfielder, has started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock.
• With Fielder and Moreland out, Carlos Pena has taken over at first base. He is hitless in his last 18 at-bats and 3-for-33 since joining the club. Pena, 36, originally signed a minor-league contract on June 17. He had been idle since being released by the Los Angeles Angels from spring training on March 23.
• The Rangers have lost five straight and 14 of 17. They have lost nine straight road games, their longest skid away from Arlington since 2005, when Buck Showalter managed the club during a nine-game road skid. They are 11 games under .500 for the first time since finishing the 2007 season at 75-87.
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesAdrian Beltre is the one lethal weapon in Texas' decimated lineup.
• Shin-Soo Choo signed a seven-year, $130 million deal with Texas on Dec. 13. He is hitting .254 with eight homers and 30 RBIs and has a .374 on-base percentage. Choo returned to the leadoff spot last Friday after two weeks in the No. 3 hole.
• The Rangers designated left-hander Joe Saunders (0-5, 6.13 ERA) for assignment on Tuesday. Miles Mikolas, who had been acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in December, stepped into the rotation.
• Mikolas’ promotion and insertion into the rotation pushed scheduled Wednesday starter Nick Tepesch into the Mets series … at least originally. Tepesch was due to start Friday, but has been dropped in place of Darvish. He now is the most likely candidate to start Sunday, in what is currently listed as TBA, unless he is needed in long relief before then. Tepesch has a 1.93 ERA over his past three starts. The Rangers will keep Colby Lewis on Saturday, as originally planned.
• The Rangers’ 4.62 ERA is the highest in the American League. They nonetheless have an AL-best 14 shutouts. They became the first AL team to reach that shutout total within 80 games since the 1968 Cleveland Indians, five years before the designated hitter came into effect.
• Closer Joakim Soria has allowed runs in consecutive appearances for the first time this season. He still has 17 strikeouts and one walk in his past 10 appearances. Former All-Star closer Neftali Feliz is currently pitching in Triple-A as he enters the final stages of a return from Tommy John surgery.
• Before a 3-for-4 performance Thursday at Baltimore, shortstop Elvis Andrus has been hitless in his last 10 at-bats and 5-for-his-last-30.
• Left fielder Michael Choice is hitless in his last 14 at-bats and 5-for-his-last-66.
• Catcher Robinson Chirinos has caught an MLB-high 19 would-be base stealers.
• Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller is due interview with the San Diego Padres regarding their vacant GM position.
June, 29, 2014
Getty ImagesThe Mets face Alex Wood, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran during their upcoming series in Atlanta.
Monday: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-8, 4.45) vs. LHP Alex Wood (6-6, 3.07), 7:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-2, 3.23) vs. LHP Mike Minor (2-5, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-4, 3.62) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (7-5, 2.34), 7:10 p.m. ET
Braves short hops
• Alex Wood was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett and reentered the rotation Wednesday. He tossed seven scoreless innings at Houston in his first major league start since May 4. Wood replaced Gavin Floyd, who fractured the olecranon (funny bone) in his pitching elbow throwing a curveball. Mets doctor David Altchek performed season-ending surgery Wednesday in New York. Wood had opened the season in Atlanta’s rotation, but was shifted to the bullpen once Floyd returned from Tommy John surgery in early May.
• Evan Gattis was forced to depart Friday’s game and since has been sidelined with a muscle issue in his upper back. Gattis, who had a career-high 20-game hitting streak snapped a week ago, hopes to avoid the disabled list. He has 16 homers, most among MLB catchers and tied with teammate Justin Upton for fifth overall in the National League.
Atlanta promoted top catching prospect Christian Bethancourt as a hedge, so the Braves would not be overly reliant on Gerald Laird. Ryan Doumit also has catching experience, but has started only two games behind the plate this season, both in early April.
Bethancourt had one plate appearance last Sept. 29, in his lone previous major league action. He got his first career start and action behind the plate in Game 2 of a doubleheader Saturday at Philadelphia. The 22-year-old Panamanian went 1-for-4. He has been selected to participate in his third Futures Game, at Minnesota on July 13.
• Dan Uggla (.164, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 38 Ks in 128 at-bats) has been relegated to the bench because of profound struggles. He has started only two games since May 23. Uggla is earning $13 million this season. He also is under contract for 2015 at $13 million.
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsNew Jersey native Tommy La Stella has overtaken Dan Uggla as the Braves' second baseman.
La Stella (.278) had been installed as the leadoff hitter beginning June 18, but he subsequently was moved to No. 2. Beginning this past weekend, he shifted to seventh. La Stella spent his freshman year of college playing at St. John’s before transferring to Coastal Carolina.
• First baseman Freddie Freeman has started every Braves game this season. The only other National League players to start all their teams’ games in 2014 are the Cubs’ Starlin Castro and Giants’ Hunter Pence. Freeman actually had logged every inning until he was hit by a pitch in the elbow in the eighth inning Wednesday by Houston’s Darin Downs and departed that game.
In his last 15 games, Freeman is hitting .371 (23-for-62) with nine extra-base hits and seven multi-hit games.
• Right fielder Jason Heyward’s six outfield assists are tied for the NL lead.
• The Braves will move into a new home ballpark beginning with the 2017 season. The site is located in Cobb County, in an affluent area north of Atlanta. The Braves have called Turner Field home since 1997, the year after the stadium hosted the Olympics.
• B.J. Upton and Justin Upton both homered Tuesday. It marked the fourth time the brothers went deep in the same game, which tied the major league record. Jason Giambi and Jeremy Giambi as well as Vladimir Guerrero and Wilton Guerrero also homered in the same game four times.
• Andrelton Simmons, the reigning NL Gold Glove winner at shortstop, is the third-toughest player in the NL to strike out.
• Closer Craig Kimbrel has four blown saves this season, matching last season’s total and already exceeding the three he suffered in 2012. Kimbrel’s 89.6 career save percentage nonetheless ranks third all time among MLB relievers with at least 150 chances, trailing only Eric Gagne (91.7 percent) and John Smoltz (91.1 percent). Kimbrel’s 155th save came on June 6 and set the Braves franchise record for career saves, passing Smoltz.
• Right-handed reliever David Carpenter has started a rehab assignment. He landed on the DL on June 17 with a strained biceps. Ex-Mets reliever Pedro Beato, who had been promoted to replace Carpenter, landed on the DL two days later with a right elbow strain.
• Manager Fredi Gonzalez will serve as a coach on Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s NL All-Star staff.
June, 26, 2014
Getty ImagesThe Mets face Vance Worley, Brandon Cumpton and Gerrit Cole in the opening three games of a series at PNC Park.
Thursday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1, 2.68) vs. RHP Vance Worley (1-0, 1.98), 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-4, 3.75) vs. RHP Brandon Cumpton (3-2, 4.93), 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday: LHP Jonathon Niese (4-4, 2.78) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (6-3, 3.64), 4:05 p.m. ET
Sunday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-5, 3.67) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (5-6, 4.35), 1:35 p.m. ET
Pirates short hops
• Gerrit Cole (shoulder fatigue) returns from the disabled list to take Saturday’s start, pushing Edinson Volquez to Sunday and Jeff Locke out of the series against the Mets. Cole, the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, threw an 83-pitch simulated game spanning six innings Monday. Manager Clint Hurdle has not declared which starter will be dropped from the rotation with Cole reentering.
• Left fielder Starling Marte sat out Wednesday’s matinee against the Tampa Bay Rays. A day earlier, Marte departed the game with concussion-like symptoms after a headfirst slide into second baseman Sean Rodriguez’s knee in the fifth inning. Marte cleared a concussion test. He also suffered a swollen middle finger on his right hand and was unavailable Wednesday.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesIke Davis has a .360 on-base percentage since the trade.
• Second baseman Neil Walker returned from the disabled list Tuesday after recovering from an appendectomy. Outfielder Jose Tabata was outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear the roster spot, even though he is due roughly $9 million through 2016.
Tabata had lost his playing time to Josh Harrison in right field, and then to rookie Gregory Polanco once Harrison shifted to second base to cover for Walker.
Travis Snider (.234, 4 HR, 137 ABs) started the season as the regular right fielder, but has receded to the bench.
Polanco made his major league debut June 10. He is hitting .325 with one homer, six RBIs and three steals in 65 at-bats since his promotion and has settled into the leadoff spot. His 0-for-4, two-strikeout performance Wednesday at Tampa Bay snapped a streak of reaching base in 14 straight games to begin his major league career. His 11-game hitting streak to begin his career set a Pirates franchise record. It was the longest hitting streak in the majors to begin a career since Glenn Williams had a 13-game streak with the Minnesota Twins in 2006 and the longest in the National League since Juan Pierre had a 16-game hitting streak with the Colorado Rockies in 2000.
• Center fielder Andrew McCutchen’s .315 average ranks fourth in the National League. He is fifth in the league in RBIs (48). Eight of his 12 homers have come this month. McCutchen is slated to be an All-Star Game starter. He has 2,461,722 votes. The Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig narrowly leads NL outfielders with 2,468,376 votes. The Brewers’ Carlos Gomez is third at 2,409,860.
• Reclamation project Vance Worley is a combined 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA in starts against the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins since making his Pirates debut on June 15. He was acquired from the Minnesota Twins on March 25 for cash and spent the first portion of the season in Triple-A. Worley went 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA last season with Minnesota.
June, 23, 2014
Getty Images/Associated PressThe Mets are due to face left-handers Scott Kazmir and Brad Mills during a two-game series against Oakland.
Tuesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (7-5, 3.88) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (9-2, 2.08), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-7, 3.93) vs. LHP Brad Mills (0-0, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. ET
A’s short hops
• Sonny Gray (7-3, 2.91 ERA) had been lined up to face the Mets in the series opener, but will have his start pushed back to Saturday at Miami to conserve the 24-year-old ace’s innings. He has tossed a team-high 99 innings this season.
As a result, Scott Kazmir moves up to Tuesday to oppose Bartolo Colon. After a successful 2013 season with Cleveland, Kazmir signed a two-year, $22 million deal with Oakland to replace Colon, who signed the two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets.
The ex-Mets farmhand Kazmir, 30, will be pitching in Queens for the first time since the notorious July 30, 2004, trade that sent him to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano. Kazmir struck out 12 Mets in six scoreless innings in his first meeting against his original club last September in Cleveland.
Kazmir is 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA and .184 opponent batting average in his past five starts. Overall, his 2.08 ERA leads the American League, narrowly ahead of runner-up Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees (2.11). Kazmir’s average fastball velocity is 90.8 mph this season, down from 92.5 mph a year ago with the Indians, but significantly higher than his 86.5 mph with the Los Angeles Angels in 2011, when he was dumped and his career appeared done.
Kazmir told ESPNNewYork.com last year about facing the Mets for the first time: “I guess you can say there will always be something there from it being the team that drafted me. But it just feels like so long ago. I’m just concentrating on what I have to do and not really worried about too much of the significance of the game.
“When I was there, it was a completely different staff, front office, players and everything. Plus, I never really got to the big leagues with the Mets. It’s nice to see the guys that I got drafted with and stuff like that, but it just seems like I’ve already turned the page.”
• Brad Mills, 29, made his A’s debut Friday against Boston. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks and threw 94 pitches in four innings. He had been 4-2 with a 1.56 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts) for Triple-A Nashville in the Milwaukee Brewers organization this season before Oakland purchased his contract for $1. Mills took over in the rotation for Drew Pomeranz, who punched a chair after a poor start and fractured his right hand.
Otto Greule Jr./Getty ImagesJosh Reddick is returning from the disabled list to face the Mets.
• Kyle Blanks departed Sunday’s game with a left calf strain and will be placed on the DL. Blanks has been platooning with Brandon Moss at first base. The righty-hitting Blanks, 27, was acquired from the San Diego Padres on May 15 for Jake Goebbert and player-to-be-named Ronald Herrera. He is hitting .333 (15-for-45) with two homers and seven RBIs since the trade.
• Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson leads by more than one million votes over Texas’ Adrian Beltre in the latest American League All-Star balloting at third base. Yoenis Cespedes has climbed to fourth among outfielders, while No. 2 Derek Norris now trails leader Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles by 365,920 votes at catcher.
Cespedes leads the majors with nine outfield assists.
Oakland carries three catchers. Norris was struck in the head on a backswing by Boston’s Jonathan Herrera. He reportedly passed a concussion test, but has been struck multiple times before.
• A’s manager Bob Melvin and bench coach Chip Hale were among the serious candidates for the Mets managerial job that went to Terry Collins. Melvin said he is definitely interested in seeing the ex-A’s pitcher Colon bat. “We may walk Bartolo intentionally a couple of times just to get him on the basepaths, see him run around a little bit,” Melvin joked to Bay Area media.
• Oakland leads the majors in runs scored (389), on-base percentage (.336), ERA (3.02) and opponent batting average (.228).
• The A’s are the lone major league team not to use a rookie this season.
• Left-hander Sean Doolittle has not allowed a run in his past 22 appearances. The 24 1/3 scoreless innings streak is the longest active streak in the AL. He is the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 45 while issuing no more than one walk to begin a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
• Former Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis has appeared in five games in relief since being claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on May 18.
• Shortstop Jed Lowrie is hitting .117 (7-for-60) with seven walks and 16 strikeouts in his past 15 games.
June, 18, 2014
Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesThe Mets face Marlins top prospect Andrew Heaney in the southpaw's major league debut.
Thursday: RHP Zack Wheeler (2-7, 4.38) vs. LHP Andrew Heaney (7-2, 2.47 with Double-A Jacksonville/Triple-A New Orleans), 7:10 p.m. ET
Friday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-0, 2.81) vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez (3-3, 2.56), 7:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-4, 4.39) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (5-5, 3.84), 4:10 p.m. ET
Sunday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-4, 2.67) vs. RHP Anthony DeSclafani (1-1, 5.60), 1:10 p.m. ET
Marlins short hops
• Giancarlo Stanton produced his National League-leading 20th homer on Wednesday, but departed the game against the Chicago Cubs after six innings with a bruised left wrist. Stanton, who also leads the NL with 57 RBIs, predicted to reporters he would be back in the lineup for the series opener against the Mets. The injury occurred on an attempted catch of ex-teammate Chris Coghlan’s double at the outfield wall in the first inning. “It was getting tighter and tighter,” Stanton said. “On swings and misses, it hurts a lot.”
Joe Skipper/Associated PressGiancarlo Stanton slugged his 20th homer Wednesday, but also departed with a left-wrist injury.
• In a flurry of moves Monday, the Marlins placed outfielder Christian Yelich on the disabled list with a lower-back strain, designated for assignment veteran pitchers Randy Wolf and Kevin Slowey, and promoted left-hander Andrew Heaney, outfielder Jake Marisnick and infielder Justin Bour from Triple-A New Orleans. Wolf subsequently elected free agency.
The 23-year-old Heaney, the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft out of Oklahoma State and the Marlins’ top prospect, will make his major league debut against the Mets in the series opener. The Marlins are looking for a rotation jolt after ace Jose Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery on May 16. Heaney went a combined 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A this season. His fastball sits at 90-94 mph. He also has a solid slider and changeup.
• Anthony DeSclafani, who was recalled from the minors on Sunday, also has stepped into the rotation, with Jacob Turner reassigned to the bullpen. DeSclafani made his major league debut on May 14. He became the ninth Marlin, and first since Adalberto Mendez on Sept. 6, 2010, to win his major league debut as a starter. Baseball America rated DeScalfani the No. 5 prospect in the organization entering the season. He graduated from Colts Neck (N.J.) High School and then pitched at the University of Florida. He was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Nov. 19, 2012, trade that shipped out Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson.
• Second baseman Rafael Furcal made his Marlins debut Friday. It marked his first major league action since Aug. 30, 2012, with the St. Louis Cardinals. He missed all of last season recovering from spring-training Tommy John surgery. A left hamstring strain resulted in Furcal opening this season on the disabled list. He then suffered a groin strain in May while on a rehab assignment. Four different players had manned second base during Furcal’s more-than-two-month absence: Derek Dietrich, Ed Lucas, Jeff Baker and Donovan Solano. Furcal, 36, signed a $3.5 million contract with the Marlins on Dec. 5.
• Third baseman Casey McGehee had a season-high-matching 11-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday.
• The Marlins acquired reliever Bryan Morris from the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 1 in exchange for the 39th overall pick in this month’s draft. Morris since has made seven scoreless appearances spanning 9 1/3 innings.
• Miami signed Brad Penny, a member of its 2003 championship team and a former teammate of manager Mike Redmond, to a minor-league deal on Wednesday. Penny, 36, last appeared in the majors in 2012, compiling a 6.11 ERA in 22 relief appearances with the San Francisco Giants.
June, 16, 2014
Getty ImagesThe Mets are scheduled to face Cardinals right-handers Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn at Busch Stadium.
Monday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-3, 3.44) vs. RHP Carlos Martinez (0-3, 4.67), 8:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.54) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (4-5, 2.88), 8:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (6-5, 4.15) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (7-4, 3.16), 1:45 p.m. ET
Cardinals short hops
• Adam Wainwright, originally scheduled to start Monday, will have his turn skipped because of tendinitis in the back of his pitching elbow. Carlos Martinez, whose fastball has averaged 97.1 mph out of the bullpen this season, will make his second career major league start in Wainwright’s place. St. Louis opted to use the 22-year-old Martinez rather than move up the other pitchers and have Michael Wacha pitch in the series opener on standard rest.
• The Cardinals promoted left-handed reliever Nick Greenwood from Triple-A Memphis on Sunday and demoted outfielder Randal Grichuk (.136). St. Louis is now carrying 13 pitchers and a four-man bench with Wainwright active but skipping a start. Greenwood could relieve Martinez in the middle innings, since Martinez likely will be capped between 50 and 60 pitches with his shift from a bullpen role.
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesMatt Adams has homered in each of his first three games since returning from the disabled list.
• First baseman Matt Adams has returned from the disabled list with a bang after missing 13 games due to a calf injury. Adams has homered in each of his first three games upon reentering the lineup. The good news: All three weekend long balls came with his father, Jamie, in attendance at Busch Stadium. The elder Adams has now headed home. The first two homers provided the winning margin en route to a weekend sweep against the Washington Nationals.
• Rookie right fielder Oscar Taveras, who had hit only .189 with one homer in 37 at-bats, was demoted to clear the roster spot for Adams. Allen Craig, who had manned first base in Adams’ absence, has returned to right field. Taveras is ranked as the top prospect in the organization.
• Matt Holliday is one RBI shy of 1,000 for his career. He has reached base safely in each of the first 31 Cardinals home games this season.
• Shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who signed a four-year, $53 million deal with St. Louis, is hitting .232 with a team-leading 10 homers and 26 RBIs in 241 at-bats.
• St. Louis is 18-2 against the National League East at Busch Stadium over the past two seasons. The Cardinals have outscored those opponents 89-43 during that span.
• Yadier Molina leads NL All-Star balloting at catcher with 2,003,557 votes. San Francisco’s Buster Posey ranks second at 1,414,363.
• Center fielder Peter Bourjos is 0-for-his-last-10 and is now hitting .209. The righty-hitting Bourjos shares playing time with lefty-hitting Jon Jay. Bourjos was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in November with Grichuk for David Freese and Fernando Salas.
• Second baseman Kolten Wong was the NL Rookie of the Month for May, but is 1-for-his-last-18.
• Jay is 11-for-26 against left-handed pitching this season.
• Third baseman Matt Carpenter is the only Cardinal to appear in all 69 games.
June, 13, 2014
Getty ImagesThe Mets are scheduled to face Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy this weekend at Citi Field.
Friday: RHP Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.31) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (2-5, 2.13), 7:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.19) vs. TBA, 4:10 p.m. ET
Sunday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-0, 2.95) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (5-7, 3.63), 1:10 p.m. ET
Padres short hops
• The Mets had been lined up to face left-hander Eric Stults in the series opener. He instead pitched on short rest Thursday in Philadelphia -- a better matchup for a southpaw -- after getting knocked out the previous start by the Washington Nationals after 2 1/3 innings and 48 pitches.
Andrew Cashner now draws the Friday assignment against the Mets on an extra day of rest. Cashner is a former first-round pick of the Chicago Cubs, who was traded on Jan. 6, 2012 for Anthony Rizzo.
Cashner is winless in his last six starts despite posting a 2.83 ERA during that stretch. San Diego was shut out in three straight starts by him from April 26 through May 7. Cashner’s last start -- six scoreless innings against the Nats -- marked his return from the disabled list after missing more than three weeks with a sore right elbow.
• Saturday’s San Diego starter has not yet been announced. With left-hander Robbie Erlin on the disabled list since May 22 with elbow soreness, the Padres briefly had been using Tim Stauffer in the rotation. However, Stauffer lasted a combined three innings and surrendered nine runs in consecutive starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates and has been returned to the bullpen. He then tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings in long relief his last appearance, Sunday against the Nats.
Reported candidates to make Saturday’s start include Triple-A right-hander Donn Roach and Double-A right-hander Jesse Hahn, both of whom debuted in the major leagues earlier this season. Hahn attended Fitch Senior High School in Groton, Conn.
• Second baseman Jedd Gyorko, who had 23 homers last season, has been on the disabled list since last Friday with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Rookie Jace Peterson and Alexi Amarista -- both left-handed hitters -- have handled the position in Gyorko’s absence.
• The Padres rank at or near the bottom in the major leagues in nearly every major offensive category: runs (200, last), home runs (48, 26th), average (.216, last), on-base percentage (.275, last) and slugging percentage (.344, last).
The players’ individual averages also reflect that anemic production. Thursday’s starting lineup at Philly included leadoff man Will Venable (now batting .216), shortstop Everth Cabrera (.226), cleanup hitter Chase Headley (.200), first baseman Yonder Alonso (.208), catcher Yasmani Grandal (.185) and the second baseman Amarista (.202).
One exception: Left fielder Seth Smith, acquired from the Oakland Athletics in December for right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson, is hitting .294 with six homers and 21 RBIs in 180 at-bats.
• Padres GM Josh Byrnes was a finalist for the GM job that went to Sandy Alderson with the Mets. Omar Minaya remains a deputy to Byrnes in San Diego.
June, 9, 2014
Getty ImagesThe Mets are due to face Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta and Kyle Lohse during the upcoming series at Citi Field.
Tuesday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0, 3.21) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (5-2, 4.19), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-2, 3.19) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (5-5, 3.03), 7:10 p.m. ET
Thursday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.68) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (7-2, 3.27), 7:10 p.m. ET
Brewers short hops
• Ex-Met Francisco Rodriguez has 19 saves, one shy of Sergio Romo’s MLB-leading 20 with the San Francisco Giants. K-Rod produced a four-out save Sunday as the Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-0. It marked his first save exceeding one inning since June 9, 2011 with the Mets against Milwaukee.
Mike McGinnis/Getty ImagesFrancisco Rodriguez recorded his 323rd career save Sunday.
• Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is tied with Yasiel Puig for second in the National League with a .335 average, trailing only Troy Tulowitzki (.361). Lucroy has 23 doubles. He is on pace for 58, which would set a franchise record. Lyle Overbay had 53 doubles in 2004, during his first stint with the Brewers.
• Shortstop Jean Segura moved to the leadoff spot on May 22, with ex-Met Carlos Gomez switching to cleanup. Segura ranks second in the NL in runs scored since the change with 14. Teammate Khris Davis, a left fielder, has a league-leading 16.
• Aramis Ramirez returned to the starting lineup as the DH Wednesday and then at third base Friday after spending three weeks on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Mark Reynolds played third base in Ramirez’s absence.
• After unsuccessful talks with the Mets regarding Ike Davis, the Brewers have pieced together first base this season with an ex-Yankee duo: the righty-hitting Reynolds and the lefty-hitting Overbay. They are hitting a combined .213 (66-for-310), but also have 15 homers and 45 RBIs, including Reynolds’ production at other positions. Reynolds’ 13 homers are tied for fourth in the NL.
• Right-hander Tyler Thornburg, whom the Mets reportedly sought in a potential trade for Davis during the offseason, has landed on the disabled list with right elbow soreness. Right-hander Mike Fiers was promoted from Triple-A Nashville.
• Kyle Lohse had been 17-5 with a 2.80 ERA over his last 34 starts before surrendering eight runs in five innings at Pittsburgh on Friday. The ill-fated start lifted his season ERA from 2.60 to 3.27.
• Gomez is hitting .307 with 12 homers, 35 RBIs and 11 steals in 231 at-bats. The excitable Gomez served a three-game suspension in mid-May for his role in a bench-clearing brawl at Pittsburgh. He also had helped incite a brawl against the Atlanta Braves last season.
• Second baseman Rickie Weeks is batting .381 (24-for-63) since April 25.
• Ryan Braun missed the final 65 games of last season after negotiating a suspension related to his Biogenesis involvement. Braun admitted via a statement last August to using a “cream and a lozenge” to rehab a 2011 injury. He has batted second in 14 of the past 15 games. He exclusively had batter third the previous three seasons. Braun is third on Milwaukee’s all-time home run list with 220, trailing Robin Yount (251) and Prince Fielder (230).
• Left-handed reliever Will Smith, who was acquired from the Kansas City Royals on Dec. 5 for outfielder Norichika Aoki, has a 0.94 ERA in 32 appearances. Lefty batters are hitting .135 (5-for-37) against him this season. Fellow lefty reliever Wei-Chung Wang is the 11th Taiwanese player in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He debuted in the majors at age 21, becoming the youngest player ever to appear in the majors from that country.
• Matt Garza signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Brewers on Jan. 27 after splitting the 2013 season between the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers.
June, 6, 2014
Getty ImagesThe Mets face Matt Cain, Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum this weekend in San Francisco.
Friday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.69) vs. RHP Matt Cain (1-3, 3.66), 10:15 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.52) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (6-2, 1.75), 10:05 p.m. ET
Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (2-5, 3.89) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (4-4, 5.01), 4:05 p.m. ET
Giants short hops
• Three-time All-Star Matt Cain will be activated from the disabled list to face the Mets. He departed a May 21 start after three scoreless innings with a strained right hamstring. Former Mets farmhand Yusmeiro Petit, who was traded to the Miami Marlins to acquire Carlos Delgado on the eve of Thanksgiving in 2005, had stepped into the rotation in Cain’s absence. Petit has returned to the bullpen.
• In the same May 21 game against the Colorado Rockies that Cain became injured, reliever Santiago Casilla also strained his right hamstring. His remains on the disabled list and is at least two weeks away from being activated.
• After nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves, 38-year-old Tim Hudson signed a two-year, $23 million contract with San Francisco during the offseason. Hudson’s 1.75 ERA ranks second in the majors, trailing only Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (1.68). Hudson has tossed seven scoreless innings in each of his past two starts.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesEx-Met Angel Pagan is hitting .321 this season.
• Right fielder Hunter Pence (.290, 8 HR) signed a five-year, $90 million extension with the Giants on Sept. 29. Pence has started 232 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors.
• San Francisco has won 11 of its past 14 games to move a season-high 18 games over .500. The Giants’ 39-21 record is the best in the majors. They play 20 of their next 25 games at AT&T Park.
• The Giants have scored an MLB-best 47 runs in the first inning.
• Tim Lincecum, who appeared last season like he may be headed elsewhere, re-signed with the Giants for two years, $35 million on Oct. 23. Linecum allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings at Cincinnati in his last start as his ERA swelled to 5.01. He left his previous start with a blister on his right middle finger after tossing five no-hit innings against the Cubs, albeit with four walks and 96 pitches thrown. Lincecum turns 30 on June 15.
• Reliever Jean Machi has a 21 2/3-inning scoreless streak, trailing only Atlanta’s David Hale (22 2/3) on the active leaderboard. Miami’s Henderson Alvarez ranks third at 21 innings.
• Outfielder Tyler Colvin was promoted from Triple-A Fresno on May 10 after first baseman Brandon Belt suffered a broken left thumb. Belt is scheduled to get two pins removed on Friday. The fracture occurred when he was struck by a fastball from Paul Maholm.
Belt’s injury prompted Michael Morse to move from left field to first base. Morse is 14-for-his-last-36 (.389), with 11 extra-base hits and 12 RBIs during that span. He signed with the Giants on Dec. 12 for one year at $6 million.
• Shortstop Brandon Crawford had been 4-for-his-last-32 before producing a three-run homer in the fourth inning Thursday afternoon against Cincinnati’s Mike Leake.
• With Marco Scutaro having missed the season’s first 60 games with a lower-back strain, Brandon Hicks has emerged as the regular second baseman. Brandon Hicks? Yes, the same player who looked challenged defensively in spring training with the Mets in 2013 and went on to hit .283 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 318 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas. Hicks is in the midst of a 4-for-37 slump over his past 13 games that has dropped his average to .182, albeit with a .303 on-base percentage. Scutaro recently received platelet-rich plasma therapy.
• Ex-Met Angel Pagan is hitting .321 and has a .370 on-base percentage as San Francisco’s leadoff hitter and center fielder.
• Buster Posey, whose gruesome left leg fracture in 2011 prompted MLB to institute the new blocking-the-plate rule, is 11-for-his-last-63. He has missed five games since May 20 with lower-back tightness related to a nerve issue. Posey has started 40 games at catcher and nine games at first base this season.
• Madison Bumgarner, whom the Mets do not face, is the reigning NL Pitcher of the Month. He was the first Giant to win the award since Lincecum in June 2009. Bumgarner went 5-0 with a 2.08 and MLB-best 48 strikeouts in six starts in May.
June, 3, 2014
Getty ImagesThe Mets face Jake Arrieta, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood at Wrigley Field.
Tuesday: RHP Zack Wheeler (2-5, 4.31) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-1, 3.20), 8:05 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0, 2.45) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (3-5, 4.81), 8:05 p.m. ET
Thursday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-2, 2.42) vs. LHP Travis Wood (5-5, 5.15), 7:05 p.m. ET
Cubs short hops
• UConn product and New Haven native Mike Olt leads National League rookies with nine homers and 24 RBIs. The righty-hitting third baseman was acquired last July 22 with three other players in a swap with the Texas Rangers for Matt Garza. Olt, 25, became the first Cubs rookie since Geovany Soto in 2008 with nine homers before June 1.
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesUConn product Mike Olt leads NL rookies in homers and RBIs.
Olt and lefty-hitting Luis Valbuena share duties at third base. The Cubs used six different players at the position last year.
Valbuena has been out since Friday with a sore abdominal muscle, but is expected to be available for the series opener against the Mets. He has started 21 games at third base and 14 games at second base this season. Ex-Marlin Emilio Bonifacio made his first third-base start of the season Saturday with Valbuena unavailable.
Bonifacio, who was released by the Kansas City Royals in February and signed by the Cubs, otherwise has 33 starts in center field and 14 starts at second base this season.
• The Cubs signed 42-year-old Manny Ramirez to serve as a player-coach with Triple-A Iowa. There is no intention of bringing Ramirez, who last appeared in the majors in 2011, to the big leagues.
“While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs’ major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a statement. “Manny will coach full time and play part time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects. If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here.”
• Wednesday’s game will feature two of baseball’s more deliberate pitchers. Edwin Jackson averages 25.1 seconds between pitches, tied for seventh slowest in MLB among qualifiers. Opponent Daisuke Matsuzaka checks in at 23.9 seconds, which is actually the fastest pace of his career.
• Anthony Rizzo (.267, 10 HR, 28 RBIs) had his fifth career multi-homer game Saturday when he twice took Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta deep. A day later, the 24-year-old Rizzo was ejected by plate umpire Jerry Meals in the fourth inning with the Cubs already trailing by eight runs for demonstrably arguing a called third strike. Rizzo has started 53 of the team’s 54 games at first base. He received his lone day off Friday, preceding his big day at the plate. Rizzo has lifted his on-base percentage to .398 this season, up from .323 a year ago.
• CBSChicago.com’s Bruce Levine reports the Baltimore Orioles are in the lead for soon-to-be-traded ace Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija’s ERA swelled from 1.68 to 2.54 after he was charged with eight earned runs in three innings at Milwaukee on Sunday. The Mets miss Samardzija and Jason Hammel (6-3, 2.78 ERA) in the three-game series. Hammel’s 0.869 WHIP ranks third in the majors, trailing only Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (0.758) and San Francisco’s Tim Hudson (0.866).
• Starlin Castro has the most hits by a shortstop in the majors since 2011 with 612, considerably ahead of runner-up Alexei Ramirez (575) of the Chicago White Sox. Castro (.272, 7 HR, 26 RBIs) has started all 54 Cubs games this season. He was due to be given Sunday off, but talked his way into the lineup. Castro had missed the bulk of Cactus League action with a spring-training hamstring injury. He started 159 games at shortstop in 2013.
• Left fielder Junior Lake has 60 strikeouts in 160 at-bats. His vulnerability is balls on the lower half of the plate.
• Jake Arrieta opened the season on the disabled list with right shoulder tightness. He made his season debut May 3. Arrieta had been acquired from the Orioles last July 2 with Pedro Strop and two international signing bonus slots for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Strop returned Friday from a DL stint for a left groin strain.
• Right fielder Nate Schierholtz went homerless in his first 42 games, which included 150 at-bats, but since has two homers in the past week.
• Former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan was promoted from Triple-A on May 3. He replaced fellow outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who landed on the DL with a right hamstring injury. Another backup outfielder, Justin Ruggiano, was activated from the DL last Monday after missing a month with a left hamstring strain.
• Travis Wood enters Thursday’s start off his shortest outing of the season. He allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Brewers.
• The Cubs’ .231 batting average ranks 29th in the majors, better than only the San Diego Padres (.226).
• Closer Hector Rondon (6-for-7 in save opportunities) missed the weekend series against Milwaukee while on paternity leave but will be back for Tuesday’s opener against the Mets. Neil Ramirez, also acquired in the Garza trade, filled in as closer during Rondon’s absence.
• The Cubs are 0-11-3 in their past 14 road series. They have a 10-13 record at Wrigley Field this season.
May, 29, 2014
Bill Streicher/USA TODAY SportsDavid Buchanan makes his second major league start Friday against the Mets.
Thursday: RHP Zack Wheeler (1-5, 4.63) vs. RHP David Buchanan (1-0, 3.60), 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday: RHP Rafael Montero (0-2, 4.96) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (3-4, 3.51), 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Jacob deGrom (0-2, 1.83) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (1-5, 4.04), 3:05 p.m. ET
Sunday: LHP Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.74) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (1-3, 4.43), 1:35 p.m. ET
Monday: RHP Bartolo Colon (4-5, 4.73) vs. RHP Roberto Hernandez (2-2, 3.76), 7:05 p.m. ET
Phillies short hops
• Cliff Lee landed on the disabled list on May 20 with a flexor-tendon strain in his left elbow. David Buchanan replaced Lee in the rotation. Buchanan, 25, allowed two runs in five innings and earned the win against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his major-league debut on Saturday, despite getting pulled at 66 pitches. Buchanan, a former seventh-round pick out of Georgia State, averaged 91.5 mph with his fastball in his debut. He was one of the limited options available. Jonathan Pettibone, who made two mid-April starts for the Phillies, is out with a labrum tear in his right shoulder. Pettibone has opted for a cortisone injection and rehab over surgery.
• Second baseman Chase Utley’s .335 average ranks third in the National League, trailing Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki (.369) and L.A.’s Yasiel Puig (.344). Utley leads NL second basemen in the initial All-Star voting tally. He has 509,390 votes, already considerably ahead of runner-up Dee Gordon of the Dodgers (304,258).
Kathy Willens/Associated PressJimmy Rollins is 13 hits shy of matching the Phillies franchise record.
Howard nonetheless had success against a southpaw on Wednesday. After a four-RBI performance that included a walk-off three-run homer against Rockies left-handed reliever Boone Logan, Howard is now three RBIs shy of 1,000 for his career. He should need the fewest games of any active major leaguer to reach that plateau. Albert Pujols is the current fastest among active players to 1,000 RBIs, at 1,257 games. Howard has played in 1,227 games.
• Catcher Carlos Ruiz’s .387 on-base percentage ranks second in the majors among catchers, trailing only Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy (.397).
• Kyle Kendrick on Monday notched his first win since Aug. 6, snapping a streak of 16 straight winless starts. Kendrick tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 9-0 win against the Rockies.
• Third baseman Cody Asche landed on the DL on Sunday with a left hamstring strain. Cesar Hernandez (.132, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 38 at-bats) has started six straight games at third base.
• Center fielder Ben Revere produced his first major-league homer on Tuesday. It came in his 1,466th at-bat. That was the longest drought to begin a major-league career since Frank Taveras went homerless in his first 1,594 at-bats from 1972-77.
• Jimmy Rollins became the 12th active player to appear in 2,000 games on Wednesday. The leader is Derek Jeter at 2,646 games. Rollins ranks second in Phillies history, trailing only Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (2,404). Rollins had been 0-for-15 before a seventh-inning single Wednesday. That single gave him 2,221 career hits. The franchise record is 2,234, by Schmidt. Rollins already owns the franchise record for doubles (464).
• The last time the Mets met the Phillies, Sandberg alleged he lost six pounds after receiving food poisoning from a Shake Shack burger at Citi Field. Like Lucas Duda, Sandberg since has made amends with the popular restaurant chain. He posed in a Shake Shack T-shirt tweeted by the company.