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'Signature moment!' Stanton hits epic walk-off HR

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- The week was supposed to be an uneventful one in Giancarlo Stanton's world, as the slugger was overseeing construction of a state-of-the-art gymnasium in his Miami home. His cell phone buzzed with an emergency text from his agent, and within hours, there was a verbal commitment in place to wear the Yankees pinstripes.

This December flashback seems relevant because it reminds us that Stanton held all the cards in the decision, that he opted to play in a large market and for a team with World Series aspirations. And when he envisioned doing so, it was for nights like Wednesday, when Stanton crushed a walk-off homer that carried the Yankees to a 7-5 victory over the Mariners.

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NEW YORK -- The week was supposed to be an uneventful one in Giancarlo Stanton's world, as the slugger was overseeing construction of a state-of-the-art gymnasium in his Miami home. His cell phone buzzed with an emergency text from his agent, and within hours, there was a verbal commitment in place to wear the Yankees pinstripes.

This December flashback seems relevant because it reminds us that Stanton held all the cards in the decision, that he opted to play in a large market and for a team with World Series aspirations. And when he envisioned doing so, it was for nights like Wednesday, when Stanton crushed a walk-off homer that carried the Yankees to a 7-5 victory over the Mariners.

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"It's just cool, man. It's a fun moment," Stanton said. "It's good future memories. That's what you always want, man. You help win a game and you've got the whole team waiting for you."

Video: SEA@NYY: Stanton discusses walk-off HR, 2-for-4 night

Stanton's ninth-inning, two-run rocket off Ryan Cook marked the high point of what has been an up-and-down ride so far in New York, particularly at Yankee Stadium, where he heard hearty boos during the first few frigid homestands. Jeers continued intermittently as spring has melted into summer, as did his struggles against right-handed pitchers.

While Stanton freely acknowledges that he has still not pieced together the good weeks and months that propelled him to hit 59 homers and win National League MVP honors with the Marlins last season, his track record suggests that if he remains healthy, incredible numbers are still within reach.

"I'm not worried about me, personally," Stanton said. "For the way our team battled back, it's huge that I could step up in that moment. Me? I'll be fine."

There had been an opportunity for Stanton to deliver in the seventh, when he struck out representing the tying run against Alex Colome. Instead, Gary Sanchez crushed a game-tying homer off the righty in the eighth, setting up a moment that manager Aaron Boone suggested could be key for the 2018 Yankees.

Video: Must C Comeback: Stanton's walk-off homer caps rally

"This was a good one, where it looks like it's going to be a ho-hum, go down in defeat," Boone said. "You're just trying to piece it together from a bullpen standpoint, and the guys just kind of hang around. Maybe when we look back on the year, this will be something they point to -- certainly for Giancarlo, a guy of his stature."

Didi Gregorius raked a two-out single that brought up Stanton, who looked at a slider for a strike and fouled off a fastball to fall into an 0-2 hole. Cook snapped off an 84.7-mph slider that triggered Stanton's reflexes, the meeting of ball against barrel echoing like a cannon blast.

Video: SEA@NYY: Stanton hits walk-off 117.9-mph, 453-foot HR

"I didn't even watch it land," Aaron Judge said. "Right when I heard it off the bat, I started trying to hop that little [dugout] fence and get out there. What a swing by him. To stay on a slider like that and deliver, that's awesome."

Cook dejectedly bent at the waist, while Stanton embraced a moment to enjoy the view. The drive carried toward the left-field bullpen, denting a connecting barrier next to the loading dock before ricocheting back onto the playing field.

Video: Stanton comes through with signature Yankee moment

Stanton screamed and grinned widely as he raced toward second base, a thick gold chain jangling out of his uniform top, while his teammates gathered at home plate. Even Masahiro Tanaka -- on the disabled list with a pair of strained hamstrings -- joined the crowd of leaping, ecstatic Bombers.

"Everybody knows the type of ballplayer he is," Sanchez said. "For him to come through there, I felt really good. I was never worried. He's got so much talent that at any given moment, he's going to be what he can be: an excellent ballplayer."

Video: SEA@NYY: Sanchez, Stanton, Boone on comeback victory

Unsure whether he should toss his helmet, Stanton instead spiked it, then felt a chill as Brett Gardner dumped the contents of a cooler on the infield. Hugs and handshakes continued as Stanton continued to grin broadly, savoring what he agreed had been his biggest hit as a Yankee so far.

"That ball was absolutely scalded," Boone said. "He's a different animal."

Video: SEA@NYY: Boone on Stanton's walk-off, comeback win

Stanton was asked whether he had ever heard the words "True Yankee Moment," the anticipation of a go-to highlight that has seemingly trailed every high-profile Bombers acquisition of recent vintage. Not really, he responded.

Told that this might be known as his, Stanton replied, "Cool. I'm part of it now."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

Astros hit 4 HRs, become 1st in MLB to 50 wins

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- The defending World Series-champion Astros became the first team in the Majors to reach 50 wins Wednesday night, doing it in electrifying fashion before a sellout crowd at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros blasted four solo homers, including back-to-back-to-back shots in the sixth inning, and rode six innings of one-run ball from starter Charlie Morton to beat the Rays, 5-1, for their 13th win in their last 14 games.

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HOUSTON -- The defending World Series-champion Astros became the first team in the Majors to reach 50 wins Wednesday night, doing it in electrifying fashion before a sellout crowd at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros blasted four solo homers, including back-to-back-to-back shots in the sixth inning, and rode six innings of one-run ball from starter Charlie Morton to beat the Rays, 5-1, for their 13th win in their last 14 games.

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"It's pretty cool to get off to a good start, but there's a lot, a lot of baseball left," Bregman said. "But I think we know that better than anybody."

George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve rocketed consecutive homers off Rays starter Nathan Eovaldi to lead off the sixth to put the Astros (50-26) ahead, 4-1. Altuve (3-for-4) also homered in the fourth, giving him his third career multi-homer game.

Video: TB@HOU: Altuve crushes 2 solo HRs against the Rays

"It's been like this for me all season long," Altuve said. "To have Springer and Bregman hitting in front of me, I get to see them hitting every single time. That kind of creates some momentum to me, and it gets me going."

It was the sixth time in franchise history that the Astros have hit three consecutive homers and the first since Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee did it against Brewers pitcher Carlos Villanueva on May 2, 2008.

"The way the game was going, you start thinking about manufacturing runs, you start thinking about how you're going to pull out a close win," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It felt like the game was going to be kind of a make-or-break-type game on who could come up with the big hit. In a span of a few pitches ... what energy got put back into the building, and also our team. Pretty impressive."

Video: TB@HOU: Morton tosses 6 dominant innings

Morton (9-1) allowed one unearned run on two hits while throwing 96 pitches, working his way around four walks, all of which he issued after two outs. The only run Morton allowed came on a throwing error by first baseman Yuli Gurriel in the fourth, which put the Rays ahead, 1-0.

"Usually, if I get ahead quick, I get a little tempo going and I'm aggressive in the zone, and things usually work out," said Morton, who joined teammate Justin Verlander as a nine-game winner. "But I make a bad pitch or two, and then I lose the batter. I try to get back into my timing and delivery, and repeating my delivery. That's been a struggle for a few starts now."

Altuve hit a 410-foot homer off Eovaldi with one out in the fourth to tie the game, before Springer, Bregman and Altuve each blasted solo homers within seven pitches of each other in the sixth to push the lead to 4-1. Tony Kemp had an RBI single in the seventh.

Video: TB@HOU: Kemp plates Gattis with a single to right

"It definitely happened quick," Eovaldi said. "I think, after the Springer home run, I was a little more frustrated with my pitch location, where it was and how I got there. I think I had him 0-2, then he worked the count 2-2, then I missed with that fastball down and in when I was trying to go up and in. I just have to do a better job of executing my pitches in those situations."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Kemp makes impressive grab: After getting two outs to start the game, Morton gave up a double to Jake Bauers, walked Wilson Ramos and hit Joey Wendle to load the bases for Willy Adames, who hit a sinking fly ball to left-center field that Kemp caught on the dive to save at least two runs.

"That's probably the highlight of the game defensively for us," Hinch said. "Just because a lot of things can happen there. We're playing a little bit deep, and it looked like he got a little bit of a late start and then comes in with an acrobatic catch."

Video: TB@HOU: Kemp makes a spectacular diving grab

SOUND SMART
Bregman extended his on-base streak to 31 games, which is the second-longest active streak behind Shin-Soo Choo's 34-game streak for the Rangers.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Altuve's second homer was 112.3 mph off the bat, making it the hardest-hit ball he's had recorded by Statcast™ (start of 2015).

Video: TB@HOU: Altuve belts pair of 400+ ft. HRs to tracks

HE SAID IT
"I was actually talking to [pitching coach Brent Strom] down underneath the dugout, so I didn't get to see. I don't think I saw any of them. I saw one ball leave the park, but it was like, 'Should we go back up?'" -- Morton, on the three consecutive homers

UP NEXT
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-8, 4.15 ERA) will look to build on his good outing against the Royals last time out when he faces Kansas City for the second start in a row in Friday's 7:10 p.m. CT game at Minute Maid Park. Keuchel held the Royals without an earned run in six innings last Saturday. Left-hander Danny Duffy (3-7, 5.55) will start for the Royals for the second consecutive time against the Astros.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Charlie Morton

MLB Buzz: Will Red Sox pursue Padres' Hand?

MLB.com

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Red Sox looking to upgrade bullpen; Hand an option?
June 20: The Red Sox are interested in bolstering their relief corps, according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi, and Padres closer Brad Hand may be a target for the club.

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Red Sox looking to upgrade bullpen; Hand an option?
June 20: The Red Sox are interested in bolstering their relief corps, according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi, and Padres closer Brad Hand may be a target for the club.

However, San Diego's asking price for Hand could be prohibitive. Per Morosi, the Padres are expected to seek a young everyday player, such as Rafael Devers, in exchange for the left-hander.

Hand, who has a National League-leading 21 saves with a 2.43 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP this season, is signed through 2020 with a team option for 2021, so the Padres are in no rush to deal him.

Boston has the sixth-best bullpen ERA (3.17) in the Majors, but the club's 'pen lacks depth with Carson Smith out for the season following shoulder surgery and Steven Wright currently starting in place of the injured Drew Pomeranz (left biceps tendinitis).

• Non-waiver Trade Deadline explained

O's, D-backs have talked Machado trade
June 19: The Orioles and D-backs have engaged in discussions regarding a potential trade for Manny Machado, according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi, and dialogue remains open between the two clubs.

Morosi described the trade talks as "due diligence on Arizona's part as the team's needs become clear." The two clubs also reportedly discussed a Machado trade this past offseason. Arizona currently holds the top spot in the National League West, but the second-place Dodgers narrowed the gap when they defeated the Cubs in Game 1 of a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon.

Video: Morosi discusses Machado trade possibilities and more

It's unclear whether the D-backs are interested in acquiring Machado to play shortstop or third base.

The 25-year-old would be an offensive upgrade over starting third baseman Jake Lamb and shortstop Nick Ahmed, as he's hitting .310 with 18 homers, 53 RBIs and a .945 OPS over 69 games for the Orioles in 2018 and owns a lifetime 118 wRC+.

But Machado has struggled defensively in his first season as the O's primary shortstop, recording -15 defensive runs saved (DRS). Ahmed, meanwhile, has notched six DRS. Machado has proven to be a stellar defender at the hot corner in the past, posting 81 DRS as a third baseman during his career and winning two AL Gold Glove Awards at the position.

Are Mets 'open for business?'
June 18: The Mets are reportedly "open for business" as it relates to prospective trade offers ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, including on ace Jacob deGrom, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. The club would be more inclined to move Noah Syndergaard, per Rosenthal, but it might be inclined to part with deGrom given the right return.

deGrom would cost a "boatload" in return, one source told Rosenthal, and likely for a combination of Major League talent as well as highly touted prospects, which perhaps only a handful of clubs could fulfill. deGrom has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining before he becomes a free agent, while Syndergaard wouldn't hit the market until after the 2021 season.

deGrom is firmly in the mix for the National League Cy Young Award, with the Majors' best ERA (1.55) over 87 1/3 innings in 14 starts. He's currently on pace for career bests in strikeout rate (32.8 percent), opposing batting average (.206) and WHIP (1.01), as he's one of the few glimmering spotlights for a Mets team that tumbled out of first place in early May. The right-hander did avoid a significant injury scare nearly seven weeks ago when he hyperextended his pitching elbow on an awkward swing, landing on the 10-day disabled list.

Syndergaard hasn't pitched since May 25 due to a strained ligament on his right index finger. The high-velocity right-hander missed nearly the entire 2017 season due to a partial tear in his right lat. Over 11 starts this year, Syndergaard is 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA.

Monday's report surfaced less than two weeks after general manager Sandy Alderson called the liklelihood of a teardown "very remote" in an interview with USA Today.

"Just because you tear it down doesn't mean you're going to have a great rebuild. It doesn't work that way. It just doesn't," Alderson said at the time.

In Rosenthal's report, he indicates that the club would ideally like to retain most of its controllable nucleus -- shortstop Amed Rosario, outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto and right-handers Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman -- but those chips are likely the most coveted by other clubs.

Yanks, M's looking to acquire Happ

June 18: As the Yankees and Mariners have emerged as true contenders in the American League pennant race, so, too, have their roster voids -- specifically within their starting rotations. Both clubs are believed to be in the market for an available arm over the next six weeks, and MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported on Monday that each is interested in Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ.

In the midst of an All-Star-caliber season, Happ has a 3.48 ERA over 82 2/3 innings in 14 starts. He is in the final year of a three-year, $36 million contract, and due to his lingering free agency, he might not be as costly a return in what is shaping up to be a thin trade market for starters.

Both Seattle and New York have gotten above-average production from their starting staffs, though each has shown signs of vulnerability.

Video: Morosi on potential trade fits for J.A. Happ

Beyond AL Cy Young Award candidate Luis Severino, the Yankees have gotten inconsistent results from Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery was lost for the season because of Tommy John surgery and Domingo German hasn't yet exhibited enough to warrant the fifth spot for good. CC Sabathia has been reliable, when healthy. To complement their elite offense and lights-out bullpen, the Yankees have long been speculated to retool their rotation ahead of the Deadline.

Morosi noted that the Yankees might have more incentive to go after a lefty given that the division-rival Red Sox have an MLB-best .813 OPS against righties but only a .672 mark against southpaws. In addition to their 13 regular-season meetings remaining, there's a strong chance the Yankees could go through Boston in the postseason.

The Mariners' rotation has also proven to be top heavy, with arguably the AL's best starter in James Paxton. However, No. 2 starter Felix Hernandez has struggled to a career-worst 5.44 ERA, and he has given up five or more earned runs in five of his 15 starts. No. 5 starter Wade LeBlanc has been a pleasant surprise, but at 33 years old, there have been questions about his sustainability.

In a loaded AL East, Toronto entered 2018 with its most realistic avenue to the postseason via an AL Wild Card berth, but it entered Monday 12 1/2 games back of the second AL's spot. The Jays are 32-38 despite winning seven of their last 10, including sweeps of the Nationals and Orioles.

Giants going after Harper?
June 14: The Giants lost out on the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes in the offseason, despite being perhaps the most aggressive in pursuing the National League MVP Award winner via a trade from the Marlins. The Giants wound up filling out their lineup elsewhere -- trading for Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria -- but they may not be out of the market in acquiring a power-hitting corner outfielder, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported recently that they could be a "main player" for Bryce Harper in free agency.

"They do make some sense," a friend of Harper's told Heyman.

Harper has been speculated to land a potentially historic deal, though the Giants were believed to be willing to take on the entire $295 million remaining on Stanton's contract. And general manager Bobby Evans has made it clear the club doesn't intend to rebuild in the immediate future despite a depleted farm system.

"We're going to be focused in the market as much as anybody ... the trade market as we get to the winter," Evans said in a recent interview with MLB Network Radio. "But that's so far ahead of us now. But yeah, there's always an eye on the free-agent market."

McCutchen will be a free agent this offseason, and 35-year-old left fielder Hunter Pence has struggled to stay healthy and remain productive, hitting .183/.236/.207 in 30 games. The Giants appear to be all-in on the immediate, and pursuing Harper would certainly fit that strategic mold.

Archer likely to be moved
June 13: This is far from the first time that the Chris Archer has been floated as a trade candidate, but a rival executive told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that he believes that a seller's market this year will make the Rays likely to move Archer before the Trade Deadline.

Video: TB@WSH: Archer on 10-day DL with abdominal strain

Archer is a two-time All-Star with a 3.67 ERA in his seven seasons in the Majors, but his current injury and struggles this year might affect his trade value -- he has a 4.24 ERA in 13 starts and is on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain without a definite timetable for his return. And Rosenthal reports that the Rays don't like the thought of trading the 29-year-old due to his team-friendly contract.

Archer could be under club control through 2021, with one year remaining on his contract plus two more years of club options. That makes him different than, for example, David Price, who was only under team control when the Rays traded him, or Evan Longoria, who had a much larger contract.

Hamels might want trade partner to pick up option
June 13: Cole Hamels has been one of the most prominent names in early-season trade buzz -- most notably as a potential trade target for the Yankees, who for all their success so far are in need of starting rotation depth. The Rangers have struggled this season, but Hamels has a 3.86 ERA and 79 strikeouts in his 13 starts.

Video: TEX@LAA: Hamels grabs strikeout No. 2,300 of career

But the veteran left-hander has a 20-team no-trade list, and a source told Rosenthal that even though Hamels recently called that protection "kind of a formality," he could still use it as leverage to ask a trade partner from that list to pick up his $20 million option for 2019. That makes sense for the 34-year-old, as the alternative to picking up his option is a $6 million buyout that would leave him facing the uncertainty of free agency in his mid-30s.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi has reported that the teams not on Hamels' no-trade list are the Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Mariners, Nationals, Phillies, Rays and Royals.

Per Rosenthal, Hamels could be a difficult fit for a team trying to remain under the luxury tax threshold, as he'll still be owed close to $8 million at the Trade Deadline, unless the Rangers include significant cash in a deal.

Video: SF@MIA: Realmuto crushes go-ahead 2-run homer in 7th

Brewers could seek to upgrade at multiple spots
June 13: Similar to the Nationals, the Brewers are a contending team that could benefit greatly from upgrades in several areas -- namely, pitcher, catcher and second base.

Milwaukee could use both a front-end starter (staff ace Jimmy Nelson is still recovering from last September's shoulder surgery) and a reliever. Plus, while second baseman Jonathan Villar has been better at the plate than last year, he's still something of a question mark and has rated as a just-below-average hitter overall, with a 97 OPS+, where league average is 100.

Video: NYY@KC: Merrifield collects 3 hits, swipes 3 bags

According to Rosenthal, the Brewers have been interested in Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield in the past. The Brewers would also face competition from other Royals suitors.

Heyward makes case for throw of the year

Play at plate highlights day of flashy defensive plays for Cubs
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- He ended up with a bloody nose, but Cubs catcher Willson Contreras still held on to the ball, completing a stellar double play in the third inning of Chicago's 4-0 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday.

After hitting a one-out ground-rule double to center field, Dodgers leadoff batter Chris Taylor didn't try to score on Enrique Hernandez's single to left, deciding not to challenge Kyle Schwarber's arm. Justin Turner then flied out to right fielder Jason Heyward, and Taylor tagged up and tried to score. But Heyward fired a perfect strike home to Contreras to get the runner.

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CHICAGO -- He ended up with a bloody nose, but Cubs catcher Willson Contreras still held on to the ball, completing a stellar double play in the third inning of Chicago's 4-0 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday.

After hitting a one-out ground-rule double to center field, Dodgers leadoff batter Chris Taylor didn't try to score on Enrique Hernandez's single to left, deciding not to challenge Kyle Schwarber's arm. Justin Turner then flied out to right fielder Jason Heyward, and Taylor tagged up and tried to score. But Heyward fired a perfect strike home to Contreras to get the runner.

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"I just envision that," Heyward said. "I know Turner, he hits the ball in the air that way a lot, and especially with a man on third base and less than two [outs], he's going to get the job done. I envisioned that, and it worked out. Great play by Willie. I feel every time I've thrown the ball home, he's gotten the guy out."

Said center fielder Albert Almora Jr.: "It was unbelievable to be a witness and to be right next to [Heyward]. I'll be honest, when the ball was hit, I was like, 'That's kind of deep.' You've got Taylor running, who is a good runner. As soon as he let it go, I was like, 'He's out.' It's unbelievable to be a part of and witness day in and day out."

Tweet from @Cubs: Loose cannons. #EverybodyIn pic.twitter.com/PjDu36mYB5

The play energized the Cubs, who went on to beat the Dodgers and take the series.

"That's a grand slam right there. That's a beautiful thing," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

"I don't know if there's a video of us, but I lost my voice, we were screaming so loud," Almora said. "It's such a great play."

Contreras needed minor treatment from athletic trainer PJ Mainville after the collision, then fired the ball over the roof to celebrate the play.

Heyward isn't the only Cubs outfielder who scares opposing baserunners. Schwarber, who leads all National League left fielders with seven assists, is joining the list.

"I feel they'll learn quickly on 'Schwarb,' if they haven't already," Heyward said. "You have to earn that respect, you have to earn that sense of caution from the third-base coach. Please keep running on me in those situations. I want it to happen. I think the biggest thing is we all want the ball, we all want to be ready, we all want to make the play."

The Heyward-to-Contreras play wasn't the only defensive highlight. Almora had a great catch in the seventh to rob Yasiel Puig of a potential hit, and Javier Baez moved from shortstop to second in the eighth inning and made an unassisted double play.

Video: CHC@LAD: Almora Jr. lays out to rob Puig of a hit

"We just keep making plays for our pitcher and they love it," Baez said.

Starting pitcher Jon Lester jokingly shrugged off the defensive gems.

"[Almora] comes in and dives for one, and I'm just like, 'I'm done clapping for you guys,'" Lester said. "It's expected now that these guys make these plays. It's fun on our end. It's the, 'Here, hit it. Our guys are really good out there, and they're going to run it down.'"

Video: LAD@CHC: Baez makes catch, dives at bag for smooth DP

Almora noticed that Lester didn't acknowledge his catch.

"You know what? I saw the replay of when I made the play, I immediately looked at Jon to see if he was clapping, and he didn't," Almora laughed. "I was [ticked]. No, I gave him a big hug and congratulated him for a great outing. But I need some clapping."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward

Ichiro in the Derby? Good one, skipper

Mariners legend has some fun with Servais' jest on radio show
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

NEW YORK -- Mariners manager Scott Servais was just having fun, suggesting on a SiriusXM MLB Network Radio show on Wednesday that Ichiro Suzuki should take part in the Home Run Derby at next month's All-Star Game festivities at Nationals Park in Washington.

But as with all things Ichiro, the idea took on a life of its own.

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NEW YORK -- Mariners manager Scott Servais was just having fun, suggesting on a SiriusXM MLB Network Radio show on Wednesday that Ichiro Suzuki should take part in the Home Run Derby at next month's All-Star Game festivities at Nationals Park in Washington.

But as with all things Ichiro, the idea took on a life of its own.

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So it was that Ichiro, now special advisor to the chairman with the Mariners, found himself in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium surrounded by reporters prior to Wednesday's game with the Yankees talking about whether he'd actually take part in the Derby.

"I thought our skipper didn't like to tell jokes, but I guess he does," Ichiro said with a smile. "That's the funniest thing he's said in the first half of this year."

OK, but while Ichiro isn't currently a player, he still does take batting practice every day with the Mariners in his new advisory role and is leaving the door open to playing next season. And as he has done throughout his 18-year Major League career, he opens eyes with his ability to drive the ball consistently into the seats in BP.

So, if asked, would he do it?

"Right now, I'm not a player," Ichiro said through interpreter Allen Turner. "I'm going to be back, but right now, I think it's just a joke, to be honest with you."

Not exactly a definite "no," but when pressed Ichiro said he respected the game too much to turn the Derby into a sideshow.

"I think if somebody like me entered, it would kind of harm the game," he said. "I'm not a player and with the long, great history MLB has, I don't think it would be good for [the game]. But it's fun and I'm happy it's come up. It's fun to have conversations like that. So I'm definitely happy about it."

Ichiro has continued being a daily part of the Mariners scene since moving into his new role in early May. He dresses with the team, does all the same pregame work and then watches from the clubhouse or workout area while each game is underway.

"Obviously Ichi has been great in our clubhouse," Servais said. "He came out and threw BP yesterday. And in regular BP, he can still swing it. He's got power and he's been launching balls into the seats. A couple of the coaches said the other day, 'Nobody wants to do the Home Run Derby. Why don't we just send Ichiro? He'd be awesome.'

Tweet from @MLBNetworkRadio: 🚨 RT if you want ICHIRO in the Home Run Derby 🚨@Mariners manager Scott Servais makes the case:#TrueToTheBlue #Mariners #IchiForDC pic.twitter.com/oBoz6XFdiD

"Then on the radio show today, it came up and somehow it came out of mouth. Then [radio host] Ryan Spilborghs got it and ran with it. Ichi for D.C."

Ichiro was amused by the idea came up again since he said questions about him participating in the Derby were an annual ritual. One time he actually accepted, agreeing to participate in the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium until a hand injury led to him pulling out.

He said he never was worried about the Derby messing up his swing, he just never chose to participate, in part because he does take the game so seriously. Even now, his batting-practice sessions have a distinct purpose.

"Right now, practices are like games for me," he said. "So when I go out there, I want to swing the bat hard and be in a physical situation where I can swing the bat well. So I take my practices very seriously."

But not everything has to be serious with the new Ichiro. Or the older, 44-year-old Ichiro.

"Right now, I'm eating two hamburgers at lunch," he said. "Now that this Home Run Derby thing came up, I'll have to up it to three cheeseburgers to get more power."

If he did participate, who would he want pitching to him?

"Mark Buehrle," he said, obviously remembering his .409 career average in 70 plate appearances against the retired lefty.

But more likely, these days, it would be Ichiro pitching to somebody else in the Derby.

"Now that," he said, "is something I could do."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki

Kluber first to 11 wins as Tribe routs White Sox

Ramirez, Kipnis hit 3-run homers to back ace's 7 scoreless, 1-hit innings
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- For one outing, Corey Kluber looked human and red flags were raised. Heaven forbid he allow four whole runs or walk a batter. Against the White Sox on Wednesday afternoon, the Indians' ace showed everyone that there is nothing to worry about.

In an 12-0 romp over Chicago at Progressive Field, Kluber cruised through seven brilliant innings, relinquishing just one single and slicing his way through the final 16 batters he faced without allowing a hit. The end result -- helped by home runs from Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis -- was Kluber reaching 11 wins before any other pitcher in baseball this year.

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CLEVELAND -- For one outing, Corey Kluber looked human and red flags were raised. Heaven forbid he allow four whole runs or walk a batter. Against the White Sox on Wednesday afternoon, the Indians' ace showed everyone that there is nothing to worry about.

In an 12-0 romp over Chicago at Progressive Field, Kluber cruised through seven brilliant innings, relinquishing just one single and slicing his way through the final 16 batters he faced without allowing a hit. The end result -- helped by home runs from Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis -- was Kluber reaching 11 wins before any other pitcher in baseball this year.

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"I think he's all right," Indians manager Terry Francona said with a laugh. "Boy, I mean, it seems like every five days you try to come up with maybe something different to say, but my goodness. His level of consistency is so high that, man, it's just fun to watch."

Kluber struck out seven, issued one walk and only flinched once in the third, when Omar Narvaez delivered a two-out single that led to nothing. With the victory, Kluber improved to 11-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.10, which is currently the fifth-lowest mark in MLB.

• Davis uses HBP to show off his cartwheel skills

Video: CWS@CLE: Kluber, Alonso talk win over the White Sox

Combined with the work of Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger in the previous two wins, Cleveland's rotation limited the White Sox to one run over 21 2/3 innings in the three-game brooming.

"Our pitching staff has been really consistent throughout the whole year," said Indians first baseman Yonder Alonso, who had three hits, including an RBI double. "And, obviously, when you have a horse like that in Corey going out there and doing his thing, that's a plus."

Indians fans are probably breathing a little easier, given how things went last time out for Kluber, who is like the pitching equivalent of a metronome when it comes to the lines he methodically produces every five games. On Friday, Kluber was pulled after only 65 pitches in a loss to the Twins.

Video: CWS@CLE: Alonso rips an RBI double to right field

In that last outing, Kluber issued a walk to end a career-best streak of 46 1/3 consecutive innings without a free pass. He gave up four runs, ending a string of 14 straight quality starts and snapping his American League-record run of 26 consecutive starts with no more than three runs allowed. Those setbacks, combined with the early exit, made it fair to wonder if something was wrong with the leader of Cleveland's staff.

Kluber appears to be just fine in his pursuit of a third career AL Cy Young Award.

"For the middle innings, I kind felt off again," Kluber said. "But I think I just did a better job of adjusting to it and figuring out how to work through it than I did last time. Last time, I couldn't make that adjustment. I made some bad pitches and it hurt me.

"Today, I was able to kind of work through it and adjust some things from pitch to pitch. I think when you can make those adjustments quicker, even if things do feel off, you can kind of try and find that new normal."

Video: CWS@CLE: Encarnacion rips 2-run double to left field

The Indians' lineup did its part in support of Kluber, churning out five runs (four earned) against starter Reynaldo Lopez and piling more as the game wore on. Ramirez launched a three-run shot in the first inning for his 22nd homer of the season, moving him one behind MLB leader Mike Trout. Kipnis highlighted a six-run sixth with a three-run blast of his own.

When Kluber took the mound for the seventh, he was armed with an 11-0 lead and on his way to the win column again.

"I would be willing to bet every pitcher would like to pitch with a lead like that," Francona said. "He just pitches his game. He may throw a few more first-pitch fastball strikes because of the scoreboard, but he just pitches his game. It's nice."

Video: CWS@CLE: Davis knocks an RBI single to left field

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yes way, Jose: In his first four seasons in the big leagues, Ramirez managed 19 home runs overall. The switch-hitter then broke out with a career-best 29 shots last season, ending as a finalist for the AL MVP Award. Ramirez is on pace to shatter that total this year. In the first inning, the Tribe third baseman belted a 1-0 fastball from Lopez out to center for a three-run homer to spot Kluber a quick lead.

Ramirez's 22 home runs are tied for the fourth-highest total by an Indians batter through the first 73 team games of a season. Al Rosen (25 in 1950) and Albert Belle (25 in '96) hold the record, with Rocky Colavito (23 in '59) coming in second. Belle ('94) and Jim Thome ('97) also had 22. More >

Video: CWS@CLE: Ramirez crushes a 3-run home run to center

Kip caps rally: White Sox reliever Bruce Rondon labored through a 35-pitch sixth inning that helped the Indians turn the win into a rout. After a wild pitch allowed Ramirez to score from third, Rondon then served up a three-run homer to Kipnis to punctuate a six-run outburst in the frame. Over his past four games, Kipnis has gone 6-for-16 (.375) with two homers, four runs scored and five RBIs.

"He's taking more good swings," Francona said. "Even the lineout today before the home run. I think there's more good swings. I think he looks more confident. It looks like when he swings now there's more conviction in going to get the ball. I think he'll be just fine."

Video: CWS@CLE: Kipnis crushes 3-run homer to right-center

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Indians nearly pulled off a double steal in the third inning with Michael Brantley (third base) and Edwin Encarnacion (second), but the White Sox challenged the safe call at third. The ruling was overturned after it was determined that third baseman Yolmer Sanchez applied the tag on Brantley in time. That snapped a streak of 23 successful steals in a row for the Indians, dating back to May 23. That marked the longest such streak in Cleveland history since caught-stealing became an official statistic in 1920.

Video: CWS@CLE: Narvaez nabs Ramirez after review in the 3rd

HE SAID IT
"You know, he's just a baseball player. When you give guys contracts and things, I don't know that Jose really ever [cared]. He just likes to play. Even when we told him today we'd give him a couple innings off. He kind of thought about it a little bit. He just likes to play baseball, and he's really good." -- Francona, on Ramirez

"At the end of the day, Kluber attacks and keeps you off the bases and always, when a club is not scoring any runs, not on the bases, you always look flat. That's not necessarily the case." -- White Sox manager Rick Renteria

UP NEXT
Following a team off-day on Thursday, right-hander Shane Bieber (1-0, 3.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Indians in a 7:10 p.m. ET clash against the Tigers on Friday at Progressive Field. Bieber picked up his first career MLB win on Sunday against the Twins. Detroit will counter with righty Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.09 ERA).

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Corey Kluber

All-Star leader Altuve caps Astros' 3 straight HRs

Springer, Bregman start Houston's first back-to-back-to-back HRs since 2008
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- When All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's 5-1 win over the Rays, the sellout crowd at Minute Maid Park was still buzzing over back-to-back homers by George Springer and Alex Bregman to start the inning.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

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HOUSTON -- When All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's 5-1 win over the Rays, the sellout crowd at Minute Maid Park was still buzzing over back-to-back homers by George Springer and Alex Bregman to start the inning.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

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Altuve really gave them something to cheer about.

Springer, Bregman and Altuve walloped back-to-back-to-back homers off Tampa Bay starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, sending the red-hot Astros to their 13th win in 14 games. The home run barrage came two innings after Altuve tied the game with a solo homer in the fourth.

Video: TB@HOU: Springer, Bregman, Altuve rip 3 straight HRs

"Eovaldi throws 98-99 [mph], and when you put the barrel on the ball, you know it's going to fly," said Altuve, who led the American League in All-Star votes in Tuesday's voting update. "George hit it pretty good, too, and then Alex. There was a lot going on in that inning. I got a little excited, and I tried to put the ball in play. He's got a good fastball."

It was the sixth time in franchise history that the Astros have hit three consecutive homers and the first since Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee did it against Brewers pitcher Carlos Villanueva on May 2, 2008.

Video: TB@HOU: Altuve belts pair of 400+ ft. HRs to tracks

"It's cool, you know?" Springer said. "That shows what our lineup can do at any time. For us to hit one or two is great, and then for [Altuve] to hit the third one was even better."

Springer crushed an 0-2 pitch at 107.1 mph off the bat and sent it 437 feet over the left-center-field wall to give the Astros a 2-1 lead. Two pitches later, Bregman homered to left field at 97.2 mph off the bat and 352 feet. Before the crowd had caught its breath, Altuve hit a 2-1 pitch at 112.3 mph off the bat and sent it 443 feet over the tracks in left field.

"It was awesome to get the place rocking," Bregman said. "Springer, big swing, gets us going, and then we kind of just fed off George right there, Jose and I. Pretty cool when that happens. I've never been a part of something like that before. It was fun."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer

While going through old Facebook messages, Pat Neshek discovered a contract offer for 2014

If you've ever found yourself sorting through old mail, you've probably discovered that you've missed out on some opportunities. Maybe it was a great coupon for discounted chicken wings, or maybe it was a free car wash. Chances are that none of us have ever stumbled upon a professional baseball contract offer, though.

Well, that happened to Phillies reliever Pat Neshek.

A case for Realmuto as MLB's best catcher

Leads catchers in pop time, caught stealing, wRC+ and WAR
MLB.com @mike_petriello

Last year, we crowned Miami's J.T. Realmuto as baseball's "most athletic catcher," thanks to a combination of Statcast-based metrics that showcased his speed on the bases and skill behind the plate.

A year later, it's becoming clear that title might not have been enough. What if Realmuto is simply 2018's best all-around catcher? He may not have the name recognition of Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, but it's actually an easier case to make than you might think. Let's count down all the things he's shining at, shall we?

Last year, we crowned Miami's J.T. Realmuto as baseball's "most athletic catcher," thanks to a combination of Statcast-based metrics that showcased his speed on the bases and skill behind the plate.

A year later, it's becoming clear that title might not have been enough. What if Realmuto is simply 2018's best all-around catcher? He may not have the name recognition of Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, but it's actually an easier case to make than you might think. Let's count down all the things he's shining at, shall we?

It matters that he's been baseball's best hitting catcher this year (he has) and that he's baseball's fastest catcher (he is), and we'll get to those. Let's start with what's happening behind the plate, about how he's been cutting down opposing baserunners, since that's what people think of when they think of catchers. Let's start with pop time.

Realmuto has the fastest pop time and the best caught-stealing percentage.

There's a lot that goes into being a good catcher. Some of it we can quantify very well, and some of it, like calling pitches or handling pitchers, we can't. (Realmuto is "the leader of the team ... the leader of the staff, the hitters," said Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough. "Not much more I can say.")

One of the things we can measure very well is pop time, which is simultaneously very new and extremely traditional. It's only been available publicly via Statcast™ leaderboards for about a year, but it's something scouts have been hand-measuring with stopwatches for decades. It's intended to express how quickly a catcher gets the ball out of his glove (referring to the "pop" of the pitch hitting his mitt) to the infielder receiving the throw on a steal attempt (another "pop" of the throw reaching the fielder), though it's technically measured to the midpoint of the intended base.

It's a combination of two things, really: How fast can you get the ball out of your glove, which we call "exchange," and how fast can you throw it to the base, which we express as "arm strength." This doesn't capture every facet of preventing steals (like throw accuracy, for example), but it's a good way to measure skills.

Among catchers who have faced five steal attempts of second base, Realmuto has 2018's fastest pop time, at 1.86 seconds, well below the Major League average of 2.01 seconds. While he's been above average from the day he arrived in the big leagues, he's actually gotten faster, dropping from 1.92 seconds in 2015 to 1.91 in '16 to 1.90 last year, then to 1.86 this season. Since '15, he's tied with Austin Hedges for first among those with 50 steal attempts, at 1.91. He's been in the top two every year.

Of catchers with at least 20 steals attempted against them, Realmuto has the best caught stealing percentage at 44 percent. We know that a catcher is not entirely responsible for that -- a pitcher's ability, or lack thereof, in holding a runner on plays a big part -- but we also learned last year that 0.1 seconds of pop time changes the caught stealing rate by 10 percentage points, so it matters.

So, how does a catcher get to be good in pop time? You can have a cannon of an arm like Philadelphia's Jorge Alfaro, who leads the Majors with a 90.4-mph average on his throws. You can have an elite exchange time like Welington Castillo of the White Sox, who got rid of the ball in just six-tenths of a second. Or you can be Realmuto, who's good at both. He's got the third-best arm strength, 87.6 mph, behind only Alfaro and Martin Maldonado. He's got the third-best exchange time too, at 0.68 seconds, behind Castillo and Carlos Perez.

Thanks to that combination, he has three of the five fastest individual pop times to catch a runner at second base this year, led by this 1.76-second laser to catch Amed Rosario on May 23.

Video: MIA@NYM: J.T. Realmuto throws out Amed Rosario

Realmuto has been baseball's best hitting catcher.

In 2016-17, Realmuto (.290/.337/.440) was the fifth-best hitting catcher among the 17 who had at least 750 plate appearances. This year (.300/.358/.531), he's been the best of the 14 catchers with at least 200 plate appearances so far. It's not that he's changed his strikeout or walk rates, because they've stayed similar to his past years. It's that he's hitting the ball much harder, and he's hitting it off the ground.

Realmuto's hard-hit rate has hovered in the 34-35 percent range for each of the past three years. This year, that's up over 43 percent, similar to Francisco Lindor or Jose Ramirez. He's also cut his ground-ball rate from 49 percent to 43 percent, allowing him to take more advantage of that power.

Video: MIA@BAL: Realmuto belts 2 homers, notches 4 RBIs

We can't guarantee that he will out-hit Posey, Gary Sanchez, Yasmani Grandal and the rest all year. But he has so far.

Realmuto is baseball's fastest catcher.

"I've always been fast, from playing football, basketball," Realmuto said last year. "It didn't matter, whatever sport I was playing, I was always running. I tried to do my best to keep my athleticism with where it's at."

We have four years of data in Statcast™'s speed metric, Sprint Speed, and Realmuto has been the fastest catcher every single year. This year, his average top speed has been faster than Yasiel Puig, Mookie Betts or Albert Almora Jr. While he stole 20 bases over the past two years, this speaks more to his overall athleticism than anything else.

Realmuto may be baseball's best all-around catcher.

Putting it all together, Realmuto leads all catchers in two very different versions of Wins Above Replacement. He's number one at FanGraphs, just ahead of Francisco Cervelli, in a version of WAR that does not account for pitch framing. He's number one at Baseball Prospectus, just ahead of Grandal, in a version that does. (While he's never been considered an elite framer, he was solidly above-average last year, 13th, at plus-nine runs.)

So is he baseball's best catcher? It helps him that it's been a down year for backstops, that Salvador Perez, Molina and Tyler Flowers have been injured, that Sanchez has struggled, that Posey is now 31 and Russell Martin is 35.

But Realmuto will almost certainly represent the Marlins in the All-Star Game, and he's got a strong case to be the National League's starter, even though he's unlikely to win the vote. He's a pop time star, and he's good at almost everything. He's almost certainly the best catcher that not enough people know about.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.

Miami Marlins, J.T. Realmuto

Injury updates: Darvish, Syndergaard, Gardner

MLB.com

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news across the Majors.

Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow, Cubs
Darvish threw 51 pitches in a three-inning simulated game at Wrigley Field on Wednesday.

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news across the Majors.

Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow, Cubs
Darvish threw 51 pitches in a three-inning simulated game at Wrigley Field on Wednesday.

Injury report

"Really good. I'll take it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after the workout. "That was outstanding, actually. Great command, great jump on the fastball. His slider was there, and I think he threw one or two splitters at the end. You can't ask for anything more, he looked that good. The delivery was easy, solid. He had a smile on his face, so that means he probably felt pretty good about it. We'll evaluate it again tomorrow."

According to general manager Jed Hoyer, the next step could be a rehab start on Monday if Darvish passes all tests Thursday. The right-hander has been on the disabled list since May 23 with right triceps inflammation. More >

The Cubs placed Morrow on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to Sunday, with lower back tightness. Morrow hurt his back taking his pants off early Monday when he got home after the Cubs' road trip.

The Cubs will use a committee approach at closer in Morrow's absence, according to Maddon, with Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson the most likely options to receive save chances. With Morrow unavailable, the Cubs turned to Wilson to close Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader, and the left-hander allowed two runs and took the loss. More >

Video: Maddon on placing Morrow on the DL with back injury

Noah Syndergaard, Mets
Syndergaard is progressing toward a mid-July return from a strained ligament in his right index finger. He threw off flat ground this week with a modified splint on the finger, and may be cleared to throw without it when he's examined by doctors later this week in New York.

"The symptoms have completely subsided," Syndergaard said. "My arm feels great. I feel like I'm throwing rockets."

Syndergaard will likely need multiple bullpen sessions and a Minor League rehab stint before coming off the disabled list. He hasn't pitched since May 25 in Milwaukee and was scheduled to return June 10 against the Yankees, but was scratched from that start when pain in his finger resurfaced. More >

Video: NYM@COL: Syndergaard discusses progress on his injury

Brett Gardner and Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees
Gardner was not in the starting lineup for a fourth straight game Wednesday due to right knee inflammation, but the Yankees expect the outfielder to avoid the disabled list.

Gardner's MRI exam this past weekend came back clean, and he said he did not need to get his knee drained or receive any injections. He took 30-40 swings in the batting cage prior to Tuesday's game. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he will likely refrain from starting Gardner on Thursday against the Mariners with southpaw James Paxton on the hill, but the 34-year-old could be back in the lineup Friday.

Boone also noted that Tanaka is still without a timetable to begin throwing off a mound. The right-hander has made some progress, however, playing catch multiple times since he went on the DL on May 9 with mild strains in both hamstrings. More >

Ryan Braun, Brewers
Braun missed Milwaukee's series finale vs. the Pirates on Wednesday because he was in Los Angeles undergoing a cryotherapy procedure on his right thumb to relieve nerve pain.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he believed it was the fifth time Braun has undergone such a procedure, with the first coming in 2014. The veteran outfielder is expected to rejoin the team on Thursday at Miller Park for the start of a series against the Cardinals, though it is unknown if he will be able to return to action immediately. More >

Michael Wacha, Cardinals
Wacha exited Wednesday's start vs. the Phillies with two outs in the fourth inning due to a left oblique strain. Wacha is 8-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 2018, ranking second on the Cardinals with 84 1/3 innings. His outing against Philadelphia was his shortest of the season. More >

Video: STL@PHI: Wacha on leaving game with an oblique strain

Franchy Cordero, Wil Myers, Austin Hedges and Bryan Mitchell, Padres
While Myers and Hedges are close to completing their respective rehab assignments, Cordero has been shut down indefinitely with a bone spur in his right elbow.

Cordero felt pain in his forearm while swinging Sunday on his rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso, which led to an MRI. The outfielder is now weighing two options: Undergo surgery to remove the bone spur, which will require an estimated recovery time of 12 weeks, or rest for a month and re-evaluate the situation. Even if he doesn't opt for surgery now, Cordero will likely need to have the bone spur removed at some point.

With Joey Lucchesi returning to start Wednesday, the Padres placed Mitchell on the 10-day DL with a right elbow impingement. Mitchell, who hasn't appeared in a game since June 5, will rest for a few days before heading to the Padres' Spring Training complex to resume his throwing program. More >

Andrew Miller, Carlos Carrasco and Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
Miller will continue to throw bullpen sessions as he works toward game activity, but there is no timetable for his return from right knee inflammation. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said that Miller, who has been on the DL since May 26, will need a Minor League rehab stint before he can rejoin the Tribe.

Antonetti also noted that Carrasco is doing well but won't be able to resume a throwing program until the swelling subsides in his right elbow. Carrasco was hit in the arm by a line drive on Saturday vs. the Twins and went on the DL the next day.

The Indians played Wednesday's game vs. the White Sox without Chisenhall, who was scratched from the starting lineup with bilateral calf soreness. More >

Chris Taylor, Dodgers
Taylor exited Wednesday's game against the Cubs in the sixth inning for precautionary reasons with left hamstring tightness. The shortstop had an eventful day before leaving the contest. He required the attention of a trainer after fouling a ball off his left ankle in the first inning and was later thrown out at the plate while trying to score from third base on Justin Turner's flyout to right field. More >

Video: LAD@CHC: Roberts on Taylor leaving game in 6th inning

Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, Giants
After throwing a two-inning simulated game Tuesday, Cueto (right elbow sprain) will play catch Thursday before the Giants determine the right-hander's next step.

Samardzija, meanwhile, will make his next rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Sacramento.

"We're looking at 60 to 70 pitches, around that five-inning area, if all goes well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Samardzija. More >

Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
Acuna is progressing through what could be described as a mini-Spring Training at the Braves' complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 20-year-old phenom, who has been sidelined since suffering a mild sprain of his left anterior cruciate ligament on May 27, hasn't experienced any problems with his left knee as he's taken live batting practice and completed a variety of running exercises that have forced him to make sudden motions he'll experience in games.

If Acuna continues to progress, there's a chance he could join Triple-A Gwinnett within the next couple days to begin playing rehab games. The outfielder ranks as MLB Pipeline's top prospect. More >

Video: NYM@ATL: Acuna on being placed on the 10-day DL

Dustin Pedroia and Tyler Thornburg, Red Sox
It has been more than two weeks since Pedroia returned to the disabled list with inflammation in his surgically repaired left knee, and the Red Sox are still no closer to estimating when he might return to action. Though it is troubling to the club and Pedroia that the inflammation remains, despite limited activity the last few weeks, manager Alex Cora remains hopeful the veteran will play a role at some point this season.

In his recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder, Thornburg has been inconsistent in his Minor League rehab assignment, posting a 5.56 ERA in 14 outings for Triple-A Pawtucket and Double-A Portland. After giving up three runs on four hits in one-third of an inning on Sunday for Pawtucket, he is expected to make his next rehab appearance Thursday. More >

Kepler's HR off Price the difference in Twins' win

Right fielder hits changeup for go-ahead blast, makes 5-star catch
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Throughout the course of his career, David Price's changeup has been one of the more effective weapons in the five-time All-Star's arsenal.

On Wednesday, Max Kepler jumped all over the pitch for a go-ahead two-run homer and helped push the Twins to a 4-1 win over Price and the Red Sox at Target Field.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Throughout the course of his career, David Price's changeup has been one of the more effective weapons in the five-time All-Star's arsenal.

On Wednesday, Max Kepler jumped all over the pitch for a go-ahead two-run homer and helped push the Twins to a 4-1 win over Price and the Red Sox at Target Field.