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Verlander (9 K's) electric as Astros best Angels

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Entering a series in which they were slated to face the top three starters in the American League in terms of ERA, the Angels pulled out wins in games started by Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. Besting Justin Verlander proved to be a more difficult challenge.

Verlander allowed two runs and four hits while striking out nine batters over seven innings to remain unbeaten with the Astros in the regular season in a 5-2 win over the Angels on Wednesday afternoon at MInute Maid Park.

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HOUSTON -- Entering a series in which they were slated to face the top three starters in the American League in terms of ERA, the Angels pulled out wins in games started by Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. Besting Justin Verlander proved to be a more difficult challenge.

Verlander allowed two runs and four hits while striking out nine batters over seven innings to remain unbeaten with the Astros in the regular season in a 5-2 win over the Angels on Wednesday afternoon at MInute Maid Park.

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Verlander (4-0) retired 20 of the first 21 batters he faced before Albert Pujols hit a line-drive homer into the left-field seats with two outs in the seventh to spoil the shutout bid. It was Pujols' 64th career homer against the Astros -- the most by an opponent against Houston, including the postseason.

Angels starter Nick Tropeano, facing his former team, set down the first 11 batters he faced before loading the bases on a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch in the fourth. Alex Bregman followed with a three-run double to put the Astros ahead, 3-0. Jose Altuve's first homer of the season, to lead off the sixth, gave Verlander a 4-0 lead.

Video: LAA@HOU: Altuve gets silent treatment after first HR

Verlander improved to 9-0 in 11 regular-season starts with the Astros and has won 11 consecutive regular-season decisions, which is the longest streak in the Major Leagues. In 17 games with the Astros (16 starts), including the postseason, he is 13-1.

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, Justin Verlander

Gray notches double-digit K's against Padres

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- To the Rockies' delight and the Padres' chagrin, right-hander Jon Gray on Wednesday afternoon turned his clock back to Sept. 17, 2016.

Gray racked up 11 strikeouts while throwing 101 pitches through six innings. Gray had a 4-0 lead, and left the game because of the high pitch count. Still, it was reminiscent of his Rockies and Coors Field-record 16-strikeout game two seasons ago.

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DENVER -- To the Rockies' delight and the Padres' chagrin, right-hander Jon Gray on Wednesday afternoon turned his clock back to Sept. 17, 2016.

Gray racked up 11 strikeouts while throwing 101 pitches through six innings. Gray had a 4-0 lead, and left the game because of the high pitch count. Still, it was reminiscent of his Rockies and Coors Field-record 16-strikeout game two seasons ago.

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Before Wednesday, Gray had struggled. He entered with a 7.09 ERA, and in his last three starts -- which included a loss to the Padres at Coors on April 9 -- Gray had given up 18 earned runs (19 total) and 26 hits in 15 2/3 innings, and took a losing decision each time.

But this time Gray fanned the side in the first inning. He used 20 pitches to do so. But he needed just 26 more pitches to clear the first time through the order, and struck out seven of the nine.

A key K came with one out in the fourth. Gray went from a 1-2 count to walk Carlos Asuaje, and yielded a Wil Myers single to put runners at first and second. Gray trailed Franchy Cordero 3-1 -- with manager Bud Black barking from the dugout at plate ump Hunter Wendelstedt on the third ball. But he ended up working a swinging strikeout, then forced Chase Headley to fly out to left to end the frame.

Gray established the fastball up in the zone. Through four innings, he had thrown 39 fastballs that included seven called strikes and eight swings. His slider, which had eluded him for the most part this year, he threw 15 times with four swings and misses and one called strike.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Jon Gray

Acuna set for debut, batting sixth vs. Reds

MLB.com @basebollie

The highly anticipated Major League debut of MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. is here.

Acuna is in the Braves' lineup Wednesday versus the Reds and left-hander Brandon Finnegan. He is batting sixth, playing left field and wearing No. 13.

The highly anticipated Major League debut of MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. is here.

Acuna is in the Braves' lineup Wednesday versus the Reds and left-hander Brandon Finnegan. He is batting sixth, playing left field and wearing No. 13.

Tweet from @Braves: It���s happening! #ChopOn pic.twitter.com/wK9JQIqJNl

The 20-year-old phenom tore up Major League Spring Training, batting .432/.519/.727 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 16 games with Atlanta.

Widely regarded as the top hitting prospect in the game, Acuna has struggled out of the gate in the Minors in 2018. He is batting .232/.321/.304 with one home run and two RBIs in 17 games for Triple-A Gwinnett. However, he has 11 hits -- including a double and homer -- over his last 33 at-bats.

He is a career .305/.374/.475 hitter with 30 homers and 121 RBIs in 253 games at the Minor League level and was named MLB Pipeline's Hitter of the Year in 2017 after batting .325 with 21 homers and 44 stolen bases as he worked his way up the organizational ranks last season.

Acuna will be the youngest player to appear in a big league game in 2018 when he takes the field, surpassing teammate Ozzie Albies.

With a record of 12-10, the Braves are just 3 1/2 games out of first place upon Acuna's arrival. Atlanta has scored a National League-best 122 runs and should only get a boost from its top prospect.

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.

Atlanta Braves

Pujols tags Verlander for HR, 2,994th career hit

MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- Albert Pujols' 2,994th career hit was a homer off a pitcher who had essentially shut down the Angels for six innings during Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Pujols' solo homer in the seventh inning was only the second hit allowed by Houston starter Justin Verlander, who carried a perfect game into the fifth before Zack Cozart lobbed a base hit into center field.

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HOUSTON -- Albert Pujols' 2,994th career hit was a homer off a pitcher who had essentially shut down the Angels for six innings during Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Pujols' solo homer in the seventh inning was only the second hit allowed by Houston starter Justin Verlander, who carried a perfect game into the fifth before Zack Cozart lobbed a base hit into center field.

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Pujols entered the game slashing .300/.432/.600 with two homers in his career against Verlander.

The homer was Pujols' 64th against the Astros, including the postseason. He is by far the most successful of Houston's opposing hitters. The only players within 20 home runs of Pujols' total when facing the Astros are Hank Aaron (46) and Willie McCovey (44).

When Pujols reaches the 3,000-hit milestone, he will tie Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. He will also become the fourth player in history with at least 3,000 hits and 600 homers, joining Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Los Angeles Angels, Albert Pujols

Thames goes on DL with torn UCL in left thumb

MLB.com

Slugging Brewers first baseman Eric Thames faces an extended absence after an MRI scan on Wednesday revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.

The Brewers placed Thames on the 10-day disabled list and recalled right-hander Brandon Woodruff from Triple-A Colorado Springs to serve as an extra bullpen arm. While Thames is sidelined, hot-hitting Jesus Aguilar is the leading candidate to play regularly at first base, with Ryan Braun as the backup.

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Slugging Brewers first baseman Eric Thames faces an extended absence after an MRI scan on Wednesday revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.

The Brewers placed Thames on the 10-day disabled list and recalled right-hander Brandon Woodruff from Triple-A Colorado Springs to serve as an extra bullpen arm. While Thames is sidelined, hot-hitting Jesus Aguilar is the leading candidate to play regularly at first base, with Ryan Braun as the backup.

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Similar injuries sustained by MLB stars Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in recent seasons suggest Thames will miss at least six to eight weeks. Harper, a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower like Thames, tore the UCL in his left thumb sliding headfirst into third base on April 25, 2014, underwent surgery and returned to the Nationals' lineup on June 30 after missing a little more than two months.

Trout's comeback in 2017 was quicker. He tore the UCL in his left thumb last May 28, also sliding into a base. Trout underwent surgery, and he returned to the Angels about six weeks later on July 14.

Thames will undergo additional tests in Milwaukee before the parties make a decision about surgery as soon as Thursday evening.

"It's an injury that we've seen in baseball before, an injury that has a very good recovery rate, and an injury that we know how to treat," Brewers GM David Stearns said. "We still have some tests and exams to go. Surgery is probably likely at this point. It's not a definite, but it is likely. …

"Once he has the surgery, if that's where this goes, we'll have a more concrete timeframe for return. But it's obviously going to be a little while. We do fully anticipate him playing again this year, playing a significant portion [of the season] for us this year. But his season is going to be on pause for a little bit."

Thames leads the Brewers with seven homers this season. He went 1-for-4 on Tuesday night, and he was injured diving for a grounder in the eighth inning before Aguilar entered as his defensive replacement in the ninth.

Asked after Tuesday night's 5-2 win over the Royals if the injury could be notable, Brewers manager Craig Counsell replied: "It could be."

The right-handed-hitting Aguilar has been a force in limited opportunities, batting .429 with a 1.116 OPS in his first 39 plate appearances. He has had a relatively even split so far between left-handed pitchers (17 plate appearances, 1.145 OPS) and righties (22 plate appearances, 1.091 OPS).

Braun has not appeared at first base since starting the Brewers' first two games of the regular season. But he got experience there in Spring Training in anticipation of playing some first to help ease a logjam in the outfield.

"We do think we've got some pretty good depth in that area," said Stearns, who mentioned Triple-A first baseman Ji-Man Choi in addition to Aguilar and Braun. "We've got guys who are swinging the bat pretty well who can play first base. So Eric is certainly going to be missed, but it's an opportunity for other guys to step up and play more regularly."

Last call
• There was better news on Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt, who left the team Wednesday and traveled to extended spring training camp in Phoenix to get at-bats and continue his throwing program. Vogt will be there for a week or so, Stearns said, before the Brewers re-evaluate whether it's time to send him to an affiliate.

• There are currently no plans to use Woodruff as a starter, Stearns said. Instead, he will provide length in the bullpen while left-handers Boone Logan (triceps) and Wade Miley (groin) complete rehab assignments. At some point, the Brewers will need roster spots for both, and Woodruff is one of the Brewers pitchers who can be optioned. Miley's next Double-A start is scheduled for Friday. "There's probably a conversation that needs to happen after the outing on Friday," Stearns said. "I don't know that there's a definitive timeframe. Wade and his representatives and myself, we have a good understanding that everyone is working towards the same goal."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Thames

Seven April callups who made a big impact

Harper, Bryant, Trout among top recent early promotions
MLB.com @williamfleitch

As you might have heard simply by sticking your head out the window and hearing the wail of the wind, the Braves have called up MLB Pipeline's No. 2 prospect Ronald Acuna to make his Major League debut against the Reds on Wednesday night.

Acuna is considered one of the top hitting prospects of the past several years, and he instantly becomes one of the must-watch players in baseball. He's also another example of a relatively recent phenomenon: The April superstar callup.

As you might have heard simply by sticking your head out the window and hearing the wail of the wind, the Braves have called up MLB Pipeline's No. 2 prospect Ronald Acuna to make his Major League debut against the Reds on Wednesday night.

Acuna is considered one of the top hitting prospects of the past several years, and he instantly becomes one of the must-watch players in baseball. He's also another example of a relatively recent phenomenon: The April superstar callup.

Either because of changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement or because teams want players to have an extra bit of seasoning in the Minor Leagues (or both), MLB teams only started bringing up their best players a couple of weeks into the season this decade. Obviously, teams call up players from Triple-A all the time; there were nearly a dozen Tuesday. But these top prospect callups have become commonplace.

Albert Pujols made his MLB debut on April 2, 2001 (Opening Day); Acuna is showing up with the season a month old, and his Braves already 22 games in. But Atlanta is only 3 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East and a game out of the second NL Wild Card spot; all told, not a bad place to be when you're adding the top hitting prospect in the game.

Let's take a look at past April callups this decade to see how they did when they were promoted to the Majors, and what happened soon thereafter. You'll note they span back to one particular superstar.

Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
Callup date: April 25, 2017

Video: LAD@SF: Bellinger beats throw for his first hit

Bellinger was MLB Pipeline's No. 10 prospect when the Dodgers called him up after multiple injuries to their outfielders, even though he'd primarily played first base in the Minors. He batted eighth and played left field against the Giants' Ty Blach.

Bellinger popped out in his first at-bat, then in the seventh inning, he was awarded an honor that's rather rare for a player making his MLB debut: An intentional walk. His first Major League hit came in the ninth off Neil Ramirez. The lefty then went 0-for-his-next-7 before going nuts -- he hit two homers against the Phillies and never really stopped, bashing 39 long balls en route to running away with the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

Kris Bryant, Cubs
Callup date: April 17, 2015

Video: SD@CHC: Bryant ties the game with first MLB hit

Bryant's start to the season in Triple-A was well documented and hotly debated, though ultimately it was, of all things, an injury to Mike Olt (now playing for Boston's Triple-A affiliate, Pawtucket) that got him the call. Instantly put in the cleanup spot, Bryant went 0-for-4 in his first game, but he had two hits in his next.

It took a while for the power hitter to get going, though; Bryant didn't hit his first home run until May 9, his 21st big league game. He then hit homers in two of his next three contests and finished with 26 for the year, helping lead the Cubs to their first postseason series victory in 12 seasons. It would get even better the year after that, as he won the NL Most Valuable Player Award.

George Springer, Astros
Callup date: April 16, 2014

Video: KC@HOU: Springer records his first Major League hit

Springer wasn't quite as highly regarded as some of the other prospects on this list; he was ranked No. 20 in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline. Houston called him up because it wasn't getting much offense, but it took him a while to provide help; it would take Springer a month to get his average above the Mendoza Line and even longer than that for his first homer.

Springer figured it out, though, and has been a lineup mainstay ever since. He also ended up winning the 2017 World Series MVP, so he's got that going for him. Carlos Correa wouldn't be called up until June 8, 2015, not that it stopped him from winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award anyway.

Anthony Rendon, Nationals
Callup date: April 21, 2013

Video: STL@WSH: Rendon's first MLB hit good for RBI double

It's funny to think that all people could talk about when Rendon was called up was "he's stuck behind Ryan Zimmerman." Rendon ended up being sent back down to Triple-A Syracuse after just eight games, but he was called back up because Danny Espinosa was struggling at second base. Rendon hadn't played second base regularly since Little League, but he was installed there somewhat out of desperation. Because he's Rendon, he started hitting; and once Zimmerman's throwing issues necessitated his move to first, Rendon took over the job for good. He's since finished in the top six in the NL MVP Award voting on two occasions (2014, '17).

Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Callup date: April 28, 2013

Video: COL@LAD: Arenado singles for first Major League hit

(It's amazing how many of these first hits are of the infield variety, isn't it?)

Arenado is a star now, but when he made his MLB debut, he was somewhat of a fallen phenom: After spending time in the MLB Pipeline Top 20 years before, he had in fact been left off some Top 100 lists entirely.

Thus, Arenado was more a desperation callup for the Rockies, hoping to catch fire from a guy who happened to be hot at Triple-A Colorado Springs at the time. He was wobbly his first season -- he actually had an OPS-plus under 100 in 133 games his rookie year, a below-average hitter -- but ended up figuring it out.

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
(Second) Callup date: April 28, 2012

Video: SEA@LAA: Angels score on Trout's first career hit

All right, all right, so this one is cheating a little bit. After all, Trout famously made his MLB debut in 2011, when he hit .220 in 40 games and made everyone wonder whether he was all he was cracked up to be. He actually spent the first 20 games of '12 with Triple-A Salt Lake, where he hit .403 and looked like he could eat the whole league alive in two huge bites. So the Angels called him back up, the same day as Bryce Harper as it turned out, and he immediately became the best player in baseball, a designation he still holds today. He has still yet to win a postseason game, however.

Bryce Harper, Nationals
Callup date: April 28, 2012

Video: WSH@LAD: Harper doubles for his first MLB hit

Harper was famously only 19 when the Nationals brought him up from Triple-A, where he was hitting only .243 with one homer in 21 games for Syracuse. His first hit was classic Harper: A drive over the center fielder's head, a dead sprint toward second base, even knocking his helmet off along the way.

It would be a couple of weeks until Harper hit his first homer, but he held onto his spot in the lineup all season, and really ever since. Perhaps most tellingly: Before Harper arrived, the Nationals/Expos had made the postseason just once in their 43-year history. The franchise has reached the playoffs four times since -- even if it still hasn't won a series.

The Braves own the sixth-longest postseason drought in the Major Leagues; They dream of Ronald Acuna being their Bryce Harper, in more ways than one.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Nolan Arenado, Cody Bellinger, Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, Ronald Acuna Jr., George Springer

Injury updates: Beltre, Bogaerts, Bryant

MLB.com

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

Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Beltre strained his left hamstring in the eighth inning of the Rangers' loss to the A's on Tuesday, and he underwent an MRI on Wednesday before being placed on the 10-day disabled list.

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

Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Beltre strained his left hamstring in the eighth inning of the Rangers' loss to the A's on Tuesday, and he underwent an MRI on Wednesday before being placed on the 10-day disabled list.

Texas seems to be ready for Beltre to miss a lengthy period of time with the ailment.

"Obviously disappointed because we already have other key players hurt," Beltre said. "It's no secret we have been struggling offensively and trying to find a way to get through it. I'm supposed to be one of the guys who is getting better, and now this happens." More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
Bogaerts' ankle injury doesn't appear to have slowed his hot bat. The shortstop homered in his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Pawtucket. He also hit an opposite-field double and played six innings at shortstop.

Bogaerts, who suffered a small crack in the talus bone in his left ankle on April 8, will start for Pawtucket on Wednesday, weather permitting. It's likely he will come off the DL for the start of Boston's homestand Friday against the Rays.

He was hitting .368/.400/.711 with two homers and nine RBIs prior to the injury. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Kris Bryant, Cubs
Bryant was out of the Cubs' lineup for a second straight game Wednesday after he was struck in the head by a fastball from Rockies starter German Marquez on Sunday. The third baseman passed concussion tests, but suffered a small laceration above his left eye from his sunglasses. Tommy La Stella replaced Bryant at third in Chicago's lineup against the Indians on Wednesday, batting fifth.

"I think he's fine," manager Joe Maddon said before Tuesday's game. "He just has to work through some things." More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Eric Thames, Brewers
Thames underwent an MRI on his left thumb Wednesday after injuring it while diving for a ball Tuesday night against the Royals. Thames was placed on the 10-day disabled list after the MRI revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb, dealing a major blow to the Brewers' lineup. The first baseman leads Milwaukee with seven homers this season.

"We're a little concerned about his thumb," manager Craig Counsell said prior to the club placing Thames on the DL. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Byron Buxton, Twins
Buxton remains sidelined after fouling a ball off his left foot on Sunday, as he hit off a tee on Wednesday, but he didn't feel good enough to play in an extended spring camp game.

Buxton underwent a procedure where a drill was inserted into his left big toenail to relieve pressure in his toe, but he remains sore and is day to day. He's currently on the 10-day disabled list with migraines, but that issue has subsided. He became eligible to return on Wednesday, but he's not likely to return until this weekend at the earliest. 

"Once his feet are ready to play, I'm not going to be worried about how they're going to work," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's one of those questions where more at-bats would probably be better, but there's something about his presence being here. Him patrolling center field has value, and he's unique in that way. We might have a little bit more of a desire to get him back sooner than later. I think everyone feels a little void when he's not around."  -- This report was first posted on April 25

Greg Bird, Yankees
Bird could rejoin the Yankees next month. He's scheduled to report to the team's Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla., for additional work on Friday, manager Aaron Boone announced Tuesday.

Bird began the year on the disabled list after undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur in his right ankle. He's still on track with the initial 6-to-8-week timetable. The first baseman has missed considerable time in the last few years, including all of 2016 with a right shoulder injury and the majority of 2017 with another ankle surgery. -- This report was first posted on April 25

Hunter Pence, Giants
Pence tested his sprained right thumb in batting practice Tuesday at AT&T Park and could be nearing a return to the active roster. With Mac Williamson's emergence, it's unclear what role the left fielder will have once he does return, however.

Pence hit just .172 with three RBIs in 17 games before his injury, while Williamson has hit .316 (6-for-19) with three home runs and six RBIs in five games since he was called up to the big leagues. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Eugenio Suarez, Michael Lorenzen, David Hernandez, Devin Mesoraco, Reds
Suarez hit 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and a strikeout in a rehab appearance with Triple-A Louisville. He's recovering from a fractured right thumb suffered when he was hit by a pitch on April 8 against the Pirates. Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said he doesn't expect Suarez to need many more games before returning to the big leagues.

"He's such a baseball rat," Riggleman said. "He's been out here working his tail off right here. He feels like he's really close."

Lorenzen and Hernandez has each been out of action since March, but both relievers took steps toward a return this week. Lorenzen (strained right teres major muscle near his shoulder) was scheduled to throw a bullpen session prior to Wednesday's game, pitching off the mound for the first time since Spring Training.

Hernandez, meanwhile, is closer to a return. He made his second rehab appearance Monday, throwing 17 pitches and allowing one earned run and two hits with one strikeout. Riggleman said Hernandez is likely to make one more rehab appearance before rejoining the Reds.

Mesoraco was scratched 90 minutes prior to Tuesday's game against the Cardinals with neck stiffness. It's unclear how long the issue will keep the Reds catcher out, but the club has just one other backstop, Tucker Barnhart, on the 40-man roster. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Jason Vargas, Mets
Vargas is coming off the disabled list to make his season debut Saturday against the Padres in San Diego. The left-hander made one rehab start Monday with Triple-A Las Vegas and joined the Mets in St. Louis on Tuesday. Vargas underwent surgery to remove a broken bone from his right hand in late March. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Adam Eaton, Nationals
Eaton continues to test his ankle with baseball activities as he works his way back from a bone bruise on his left ankle. He was eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, but the Nationals have not revealed how close he is to returning.

"When you see him in the lineup, he'll be ready," manager Dave Martinez said Monday. "He's coming along. When we get him back, he's a force to reckon with and he helps our lineup out." More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Avisail Garcia, Miguel Gonzalez, Carlos Rodon, White Sox
The White Sox placed outfielder Garcia on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday after he strained his right hamstring running to first base in Monday's win over the Mariners.

Garcia, hitting .233 with one homer, four RBIs and five runs scored this year after an All-Star campaign last season, is not expected to miss an extended amount of time. He could miss more than the designated 10-day period, however.

The club also placed Gonzalez on the 10-day disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation.

"We are going to take our time a little more just to make sure that everything is all right," Gonzalez said. "Nothing serious. Give it time to get better."

Rondon threw 34 pitches over three innings in an extended spring camp game Monday as he continues his rehab in return from arthroscopic surgery in his left shoulder. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Ian Kennedy, Royals
Kennedy took a line drive off the bat of Ryan Braun to his right foot in the third inning of Tuesday night's loss to the Brewers. The right-hander finished the third inning, but could not put pressure on his foot while in the dugout and exited the contest.

X-rays were negative, but the Royals are not yet sure if Kennedy will make his scheduled start on Sunday. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Ryon Healy, Mariners
Healy, who has been out with a right ankle injury, is expected to return to the Mariners over the weekend as they take on the Indians.

Healy went 1-for-3 with a two-run single for Double-A Arkansas on Tuesday and is 5-for-15 in four games with the Travelers.

"He needs to come in and contribute -- he knows that," manager Scott Servais said. "He was off to a slow start. Giving him the extra days of at-bats and playing time on the rehab assignment hopefully helps him, but facing Minor League pitching vs. Cleveland pitching is a little bit different." More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Martin Prado, Elieser Hernandez, JT Riddle, Dan Straily, Marlins
The Marlins have a quartet of players nearing returns from injury, as Prado, Hernandez, Riddle and Straily all played in Minor League rehab assignments Tuesday.

"We're still kind of biting our tongue and continuing to hope that these guys keep progressing," manager Don Mattingly said Monday. "We'll keep taking it one day at a time, for the starters one start [at a time], and evaluate, see where we're at. Dan's pitching tomorrow. Prado, Riddle, Elieser, they'll all play tomorrow."

Prado is recovering from right knee surgery, Hernandez is making his way back from dental surgery, Riddle is working back from a shoulder ailment and Straily has been on the DL with a right forearm strain. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Altuve swats first homer of the season

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- It took reigning American League Most Valuable Player Award winner Jose Altuve over 100 at-bats to clobber his first home run of the season in Wednesday's 5-2 win over the Angels at Minute Maid Park, and he certainly didn't get cheated.

Altuve crushed a chest-high slider from former teammate Nick Tropeano of the Angels and sent a tape-measure shot high over the left-field wall, giving the Astros a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning. It was Altuve's first home run since Game 5 of the 2017 World Series and first in the regular season since Sept. 19 of last year.

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HOUSTON -- It took reigning American League Most Valuable Player Award winner Jose Altuve over 100 at-bats to clobber his first home run of the season in Wednesday's 5-2 win over the Angels at Minute Maid Park, and he certainly didn't get cheated.

Altuve crushed a chest-high slider from former teammate Nick Tropeano of the Angels and sent a tape-measure shot high over the left-field wall, giving the Astros a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning. It was Altuve's first home run since Game 5 of the 2017 World Series and first in the regular season since Sept. 19 of last year.

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Altuve's teammates gave him the silent treatment in the dugout, with Altuve strutting down the bench giving high fives into the air before being mobbed with congratulations. Last season, Altuve didn't hit his first home run until his 67th at-bat of the season.

Altuve hit a career-high 24 homers in 2016 and matched it last year before adding seven more in the postseason, including three in Game 1 of the AL Division Series against the Red Sox.

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

Venters to be first to pitch in MLB after 3 TJ ops

Rays select contract of lefty, who last appeared in bigs in October 2012
MLB.com @basebollie

Left-hander Jonny Venters last pitched in the big leagues on Oct. 3, 2012. Nearly six seasons and three Tommy John surgeries later, the 33-year-old is back.

The Rays announced they selected the contract of Venters from Triple-A Durham on Wednesday afternoon.

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Left-hander Jonny Venters last pitched in the big leagues on Oct. 3, 2012. Nearly six seasons and three Tommy John surgeries later, the 33-year-old is back.

The Rays announced they selected the contract of Venters from Triple-A Durham on Wednesday afternoon.

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Venters, an All-Star with the Braves in 2011, is 15-10 with a 2.23 ERA in 229 2/3 career innings, all in relief with Atlanta.

Video: TB@MIN: Venters escapes 6th inning with a double play

The southpaw signed with the Rays as a free agent in December, and he allowed two runs (one earned) while striking out six in 5 2/3 frames for Durham before his promotion.

Based on Jon Roegele's oft-cited Tommy John surgery database, Venters will become the first pitcher to come back from three elbow ligament replacement operations to pitch in the Majors. Though Jose Rijo and Jason Isringhausen are often cited to have had three surgeries apiece, Roegele does not recognize either pitcher as a three-time recipient of the surgery, because for each, at least one of the surgeries addressed a flexor tendon tear, not a UCL tear. Venters also underwent a fourth elbow surgery, a "half-Tommy John," in 2016.

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jonny Venters

Moncada hits 1st leadoff HR -- off King Felix

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada didn't take long to provide a rude welcome to Chicago for Seattle starting pitcher Felix Hernandez.

Moncada connected on the first pitch he saw from Hernandez on Wednesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field, launching his fifth home run of the season and his first leadoff blast to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. It was also the White Sox first leadoff home run this season.

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CHICAGO -- White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada didn't take long to provide a rude welcome to Chicago for Seattle starting pitcher Felix Hernandez.

Moncada connected on the first pitch he saw from Hernandez on Wednesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field, launching his fifth home run of the season and his first leadoff blast to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. It was also the White Sox first leadoff home run this season.

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The homer came off of an 87.1 mph changeup and had an exit velocity of 108.5 mph, traveling 394 feet per Statcast™.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Yoan Moncada

Beckham on DL, O's bring up Peterson

Left groin strain an issue for infielder since Spring Training
MLB.com

The Orioles placed infielder Tim Beckham on the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday with a left groin strain, and they added infielder Jace Peterson to the 25-man roster. Beckham's DL stint is retroactive to Tuesday.

Beckham exited Monday's 2-1 loss to the Indians at Camden Yards with a sore groin and Achilles tendon. The groin soreness is an issue he's dealt with since Spring Training.

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The Orioles placed infielder Tim Beckham on the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday with a left groin strain, and they added infielder Jace Peterson to the 25-man roster. Beckham's DL stint is retroactive to Tuesday.

Beckham exited Monday's 2-1 loss to the Indians at Camden Yards with a sore groin and Achilles tendon. The groin soreness is an issue he's dealt with since Spring Training.

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The O's are already shorthanded with Trey Mancini's status in question with a right knee injury and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, designated hitter Mark Trumbo and closer Zach Britton all sidelined.

Peterson, 27, was claimed by the Orioles off waivers from the Yankees on Tuesday. He's in the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Rays, batting eighth and starting at second base.

Video: BAL@NYY: Peterson singles after overturned call

"Left-handed hitter. Plus runner. Has some versatility to his game. And a guy that's got some experience in the big leagues," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday. "Has a skill set that hopefully will play here and something we're in need of."

Peterson has played in 386 games over five seasons in the Majors with the Padres, Braves and Yankees. He appeared in just three games with New York this year, batting 3-for-10, before he was designated for assignment.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Baltimore Orioles, Tim Beckham, Jace Peterson

These 9 quotes would make Yogi proud

Baseball players and managers have a knack for winding up in some pretty unusual circumstances, both on and off the field. And sometimes, those circumstances cause them to say some very, very weird things. Which brings us here today. 

We've taken nine extremely strange (and extremely specific) quotes from baseball history, taken them out of context and asked you to see if you can remember who said them. Good luck:

Bryant held out of finale vs. Indians

MLB.com @castrovince

CLEVELAND -- Kris Bryant was held out of the Cubs' lineup again Wednesday for the finale of a two-game set with the Indians. Bryant was hit in the head by a fastball from Rockies starter German Marquez on Sunday and has passed concussion tests, but this was his second straight day on the shelf.

"I think he's fine," manager Joe Maddon had said before Tuesday's game. "He just has to work through some things."

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CLEVELAND -- Kris Bryant was held out of the Cubs' lineup again Wednesday for the finale of a two-game set with the Indians. Bryant was hit in the head by a fastball from Rockies starter German Marquez on Sunday and has passed concussion tests, but this was his second straight day on the shelf.

"I think he's fine," manager Joe Maddon had said before Tuesday's game. "He just has to work through some things."

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Bryant saw a doctor on Tuesday and took indoor batting practice, but on Wednesday, Tommy La Stella was again in the starting lineup in his absence.

"Getting hit in the head is kind of a traumatic experience, especially at 96 [mph]," Maddon said. "That's probably the first time that's happened to him."

After being struck by Marquez's 1-2 pitch in the brim of his helmet, Bryant walked to the dugout. He stayed on his feet while talking to Maddon and team trainers before he was helped off the field. He had a small laceration above his left eye from his sunglasses.

Bryant is hitting .319/.467/.536 (22-for-69) with two homers, seven doubles and 11 RBIs through 19 games this season, his fourth in the big leagues.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant