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Ramirez hot on Trout's tail with 22nd homer

MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- If Mike Trout is playing baseball on another planet, Jose Ramirez is on a mission to find it.

In the first inning of Wednesday's game against the White Sox, Ramirez launched a fastball out to center field for his 22nd home run of the season for the Indians. The drive pulled the dynamic Tribe third baseman within one shot of Trout for the Major League lead in homers. Boston slugger J.D. Martinez also has 22 on the season.

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CLEVELAND -- If Mike Trout is playing baseball on another planet, Jose Ramirez is on a mission to find it.

In the first inning of Wednesday's game against the White Sox, Ramirez launched a fastball out to center field for his 22nd home run of the season for the Indians. The drive pulled the dynamic Tribe third baseman within one shot of Trout for the Major League lead in homers. Boston slugger J.D. Martinez also has 22 on the season.

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"Jose never gives away an at-bat," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said prior to Wednesday's game. "Every single at-bat that he's up there, he is competing and finding a way to try to get a pitch to hit and hit it hard somewhere.

"And some of the skills that we had seen in the Minor Leagues with him -- just a good ability to put the ball in play, manage the strike zone, when he swings, he very rarely misses -- those same attributes are now playing out at the Major League level with more power behind it."

Ramirez's latest blast came on a 1-0 fastball from White Sox righty Reynaldo Lopez, who watched it rocket out to center for a three-run home run. Leading up to the blast, Lopez walked Francisco Lindor to open the inning before second baseman Yoan Moncada booted a grounder from Michael Brantley to put two runners aboard. Ramirez's shot armed ace Corey Kluber with a quick 3-0 advantage.

Ramirez is tied for fourth in Indians history for the most home runs through the team's first 73 games of a season. Albert Belle (1994) and Jim Thome ('97) also had 22, while Rocky Colavito had 23 in '59, Belle launched 25 in '96 and Al Rosen belted 25 in '50.

Heading into Wednesday's action, Ramirez was batting .289 with 42 extra-base hits to go along with a .387 on-base percentage, .601 slugging percentage, nine steals and 47 runs scored. His 4.6 WAR (per FanGraphs) ranked second to only Trout (6.3) in MLB. With the blast, Ramirez became the sixth player to reach the 50-RBI plateau.

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, Jose Ramirez

These players should have more All-Star votes

These standouts need a boost to make Midsummer Classic roster
MLB.com @castrovince

Vote totals from the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot have been pouring in, and with about two weeks left in the process (voting wraps at 11:59 p.m. ET on July 5), it's really hard to find much statistically based fault with the fan choices, so far. There's still a lot that can happen between now and the July 17 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, but right now the decisions largely rate as defensible.

But that doesn't mean there aren't still guys getting shorted. Each week, the top five vote-getters at each position (top 15 in the outfield) are announced, and it's always interesting to see which names are, or are not, getting traction. And of course, it's unavoidable that every year there are guys who aren't even listed on the ballot, but are making strong All-Star cases.

Vote totals from the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot have been pouring in, and with about two weeks left in the process (voting wraps at 11:59 p.m. ET on July 5), it's really hard to find much statistically based fault with the fan choices, so far. There's still a lot that can happen between now and the July 17 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, but right now the decisions largely rate as defensible.

But that doesn't mean there aren't still guys getting shorted. Each week, the top five vote-getters at each position (top 15 in the outfield) are announced, and it's always interesting to see which names are, or are not, getting traction. And of course, it's unavoidable that every year there are guys who aren't even listed on the ballot, but are making strong All-Star cases.

VOTE NOW: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

So here's a squad of guys who have not yet been listed as "finalists," so to speak, in the fan voting, but who are having really, really good years. This is the All-Overlooked Team.

Video: Latest on the NL All-Star Ballot vote leaders

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Marlins
The Pirates' Francisco Cervelli is also deserving here, but at least Cervelli was in the top five in the first ballot update before getting bumped this week. Realmuto hasn't even sniffed that kind of love, despite a .300/.360/.532 slash line. He missed the first few weeks of the season with a bone bruise, but he has been mashing since his return, taking his power production to a new level.

Voters apparently haven't noticed, but you can bet teams that might bid on Realmuto's services before the Trade Deadline have definitely noticed.

Video: Vote J.T. into the 2018 All-Star Game in Washington

First base: Jose Martinez, Cardinals
The top five vote-getters in the NL at first base are Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt, Cody Bellinger and Joey Votto, and that's an awful lot of name-recognition for someone like Martinez to contend with (and Freeman's runaway vote total is very much deserved). But Martinez has effectively proved his .897 OPS in 307 plate appearances as a 28-year-old rookie last year was no fluke. Among all Major League first basemen, only Freeman and Belt have higher weighted runs created plus (wRC+) marks than Martinez's 144.

Shoutout, also, to the Brewers' Jesus Aguilar, who has been a revelation, with a .292/.355/.557 slash line that makes Craig Counsell's daily lineup decisions all the more difficult now that Eric Thames (who is on the ballot ahead of Aguilar) is back in action.

Video: SD@STL: Martinez launches a 2-run homer to center

Second base: Whit Merrifield, Royals
Remember two years back, when Royals fans were so enthusiastically supportive of the then-defending champs that they had Omar Infante among the American League finalists at second base even though he was designated for assignment? It's a lot different these days, as Merrifield is putting together a really positive campaign -- .293/.370/.421 slash line, 2.0 Baseball Reference-calculated Wins Above Replacement -- in relative anonymity. He's not producing as much power as he did a year ago, but this is still a really solid player not many people are paying attention to.

Cesar Hernandez, who is giving the Phillies above-average production at second for the third straight year, also merits mentioning here.

Video: HOU@KC: Merrifield rips an RBI double to left field

Shortstop: Eduardo Escobar, Twins
The fact that Andrelton Simmons got bumped out of the top five this week shows how deep the AL shortstop ranks are. We could go with Simmons here, even though he was in the top five a week ago. Or Xander Bogaerts, who is having a good year on a great Red Sox team. Or Daniel Robertson, whose contributions to the Rays don't get enough love.

But there's a really good chance you haven't noticed that the shortstop second only to leading vote-getter Manny Machado in OPS, wRC+ and weighted on-base average is Escobar. He broke out with 21 homers last year, but his age-29 season has been even better, and he's likely to surpass his career-high single-season WAR output by the All-Star break. Pretty crazy, considering Escobar only got this everyday opportunity as a product of Jorge Polanco getting suspended for PEDs.

Video: MIN@CLE: Escobar doubles three times vs. Indians

Third base: Max Muncy, Dodgers
It's a credit to the craziness of baseball that even in a year like this, when the online-only ballot release was later than usual (and therefore more easily adaptable to surprises), there are still a bunch of guys whose impact is so far beyond expectations that they are still merely write-in candidates. Muncy is one of those guys. He's been a plug-and-play type for the Dodgers, filling in wherever a need has arisen. He first caught attention doing bang-up work in place of the injured Justin Turner, which is why he's listed at third base here. Muncy's power, including a team-high 13 homers as of this writing, has been an incredible (and unforeseen) asset for a Dodgers team ravaged by injuries. Though cast off by the A's just over a year ago, he has put together a .386 OBP and .599 SLG for L.A.

There are actually a ton of other hot-corner candidates for this list, including the Tigers' Jeimer Candelario, the A's Matt Chapman, the Marlins' Brian Anderson (who is putting himself in the running for National League Rookie of the Year Award), the Brewers' Travis Shaw, and even utility man Daniel Descalso -- the 31-year-old, who is shockingly giving the D-backs a .907 OPS, plays everywhere and probably deserves to be somewhere on here.

Video: TEX@LAD: Muncy crushes solo home run to right-center

Outfield: Brandon Nimmo, Mets; Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays; Juan Soto, Nationals
Like Nimmo and Soto, the Cubs' Albert Almora Jr., the Pirates' Austin Meadows and the Astros' Tony Kemp are among those who aren't on the ballot, but who have made a mark in the lineup. They are all candidates for inclusion here.

But no one merits mention more than Nimmo. The Mets' decision to use their three outfield spots on the ballot on Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto made sense at the time they submitted it, but now Nimmo's exclusion sticks out like Cespedes' sore hip. Nimmo's been the Mets' best position player, by far, and his 1.013 OPS ranks fourth in all of baseball among those with at least 200 plate appearances.

Video: NYM@COL: Nimmo rips a leadoff inside-the-park homer

Soto isn't truly "overlooked," because he's been a pretty big story the past month, and you know he'd rank a lot higher in the voting if he had debuted earlier than May 20 (although now that he homered in a suspended game from May 15, you could technically say he debuted earlier than that). But he nonetheless fits the formula as a non-finalist. In Soto's short time with the Nats, he's already been as valuable as Bryce Harper (0.9 FanGraphs WAR to Harper's 1.0 mark). It would be cool to see the 19-year-old phenom at a Midsummer Classic taking place at his home field.

Hernandez lit up opponents in April (1.054 OPS) came down to earth in May (.649) and has caught fire again in June (1.075). He's turned out to be an excellent pickup by the Blue Jays from last year's Trade Deadline.

Designated hitter: Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers
Choo is on the short list of most accomplished active players to have never reached the All-Star Game. He's compiled north of 30 Wins Above Replacement in his career, but his "star," as it were, has never aligned.

Video: TEX@KC: Choo homers to extend on-base streak to 32

Maybe this will be Choo's year. J.D. Martinez is rightly running away with the fan vote, but Choo's numbers (.279/.394/.478 slash line, 138 wRC+) are superior to those of Giancarlo Stanton (.252/.326/.485, 118), even if Stanton leads him in the homer tally. The White Sox's Matt Davidson (137 wRC+), the Mariners' Nelson Cruz (138) and the A's Khris Davis (134) are also quality candidates for that backup DH spot, but Evan Gattis, who is third in the fan voting currently, has been red-hot for the Astros the past month-plus and could seize it.

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.

Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, Shin-Soo Choo, Eduardo Escobar, Teoscar Hernandez, Jose Martinez, Whit Merrifield, Max Muncy, Brandon Nimmo, J.T. Realmuto, Juan Soto

Back tightness lands Cubs' Morrow on DL

Strop, Cishek, Wilson, Hancock candidates to close with Morrow out
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- The Cubs will be mixing and matching at closer after placing Brandon Morrow on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Sunday, because of tightness in his back.

The Cubs will keep reliever Justin Hancock on the roster to take Morrow's spot. Hancock was the 26th man added for Tuesday's doubleheader against the Dodgers.

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CHICAGO -- The Cubs will be mixing and matching at closer after placing Brandon Morrow on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Sunday, because of tightness in his back.

The Cubs will keep reliever Justin Hancock on the roster to take Morrow's spot. Hancock was the 26th man added for Tuesday's doubleheader against the Dodgers.

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Morrow injured his back taking his pants off early Monday when he got home after the Cubs' road trip.

"It's frustrating any time you can't get out there, especially when you can't go for something as stupid as taking your pants off," Morrow said on Tuesday. "Getting hurt any time is frustrating, but when it's not related to throwing a baseball, it's even more frustrating."

Manager Joe Maddon said Morrow may have been dehydrated after the Cubs' series in St. Louis.

"It's one of those freakish things," Maddon said. "People bend over and hurt their backs all the time."

The Cubs are in the midst of playing 17 games in consecutive days and didn't want to go to Cincinnati this weekend short-handed.

"I don't want [Morrow] to go out there and pitch coming off that right now," Maddon said of Morrow. "There's really no reason for him to rush it back. I prefer him getting 100 percent well and getting back out there when it's right. We cannot go through this weekend, if in fact we play, with less than a full bullpen."

The Cubs are also missing Carl Edwards Jr., who is on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He was making progress, but there's no timetable for his return. Left-hander Brian Duensing is on the bereavement list and could rejoin the team Friday.

So who's the closer?

"It'll be a matchup backside, yes," Maddon said.

Hancock is one of the candidates to close, along with Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek and lefty Justin Wilson. Cishek has been in the closer role for the Marlins and Mariners and is 2-for-4 in save situations this season with the Cubs.

"I don't want to downplay it," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said about Morrow's injury. "He had back spasms. He had the same thing in Spring Training. We started treating it the same way we treated it in Spring Training, and I think he was out about a week, 10 days. If things go as we hope, it will be the kind of thing where he'd probably be able to be throwing before the 10 days are up. If he's not going to be ready all weekend, we can backdate it three days, so it makes sense to put him on the DL. He understood that."

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

Chicago Cubs, Brandon Morrow

MLB.TV offering two Free Games today

Cardinals-Phillies, Brewers-Pirates available for out-of-market viewing
MLB.com @DKramer_

Baseball fans who indulge in the MLB.TV Free Game of the Day will be able to double down, as two free games are available for out-of-market viewing today.

Fans can watch both the Cardinals and Phillies right now and Brewers and Pirates at 7 p.m. ET as part of the promotion.

Baseball fans who indulge in the MLB.TV Free Game of the Day will be able to double down, as two free games are available for out-of-market viewing today.

Fans can watch both the Cardinals and Phillies right now and Brewers and Pirates at 7 p.m. ET as part of the promotion.

In Philadelphia, Jake Arrieta is looking to bounce back from his shortest start of the season and regain the elite form he showed in May, when he was named the National League Pitcher of the Month. However, the club's blue-chip free-agent acquisition is 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA over his three starts in June. Arrieta squared off against another starter looking to bounce back, Cards righty Michael Wacha, who gave up three homers in four-plus innings against the Cubs on Friday.

This series between two postseason hopefuls attempting to climb their way up their respective division ladders has offered plenty of intrigue already. On Monday, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna missed a two-out diving catch in the ninth inning that would have sealed the win but instead allowed the Phils to walk off with a 6-5 win. The Cards responded Tuesday by halting a late Philly rally when Matt Carpenter clubbed a go-ahead homer in the ninth to even the series.

It's been nearly just as exciting a series in Pittsburgh, with a pair of one-run games decided late. On Monday, Pirates righty Trevor Williams tossed a career-high-tying seven strikeouts and allowed just one hit in a 1-0 win over red-hot Milwaukee. And on Tuesday, touted Brewers prospect Freddy Peralta struck out seven over six scoreless innings, and Milwaukee rode a two-run homer from Jesus Aguilar en route to a 3-2 win.

On Wednesday, blossoming left-hander Brent Suter will make his first start of the year against the division rivals as he looks to keep a streak alive in which he's allowed three or fewer runs in six straight starts. Suter will square off against Pirates righty Chad Kuhl, who has also been strong lately, with a 2.45 ERA his last five starts.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies

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

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.

Best getting better, Trout on an insane .696 clip

Angels star hitting .696 with 4 HRs, 9 RBIs over last 37 PAs
MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- There was no other player the Angels would have rather had up to bat in that situation.

Down by one run in the fifth inning, the Angels had loaded the bases with one out against D-backs right-hander Matt Koch, bringing Mike Trout to the plate. Arizona pitching coach Mike Butcher jogged out to the mound to briefly strategize with Koch, but his counsel proved of little use against Trout, who promptly lined a first-pitch fastball to center field for a bases-clearing single that helped lift the Angels to a 5-4 win over the D-backs on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.

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ANAHEIM -- There was no other player the Angels would have rather had up to bat in that situation.

Down by one run in the fifth inning, the Angels had loaded the bases with one out against D-backs right-hander Matt Koch, bringing Mike Trout to the plate. Arizona pitching coach Mike Butcher jogged out to the mound to briefly strategize with Koch, but his counsel proved of little use against Trout, who promptly lined a first-pitch fastball to center field for a bases-clearing single that helped lift the Angels to a 5-4 win over the D-backs on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.

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"We have to be more than Mike," manager Mike Scioscia said, "but believe me, that's a situation we love to have him swinging the bat."

The game-deciding hit was the centerpiece to the latest in another stunning Trout performance. He reached base in all four plate appearances, also walking twice and even getting to first on a catcher's interference.

Widely regarded as the best player in baseball, Trout's production has surged to an otherworldly level over the last week. He has recorded only seven outs over his last 37 plate appearances (.778 OBP), batting .696 (16-for-23) with four home runs, nine RBIs, 11 walks (four intentional) and one hit-by-pitch. In addition to leading the Majors with 23 home runs and a 1.158 OPS, Trout also has more walks (64) than strikeouts (60) this season.

"I'm just trying to look for my pitch, and if it's not there, I'm just taking my walks," Trout said. "For me, if I try to expand the strike zone, that's when I get in trouble."

Video: ARI@LAA: Trout on team's performance in Angels' win

Already a two-time MVP winner at age 26, Trout is currently on pace for a 14.4 WAR season, which would break Babe Ruth's 95-year-old record (14.1 in 1923) for the greatest individual season in MLB history.

"This is not an easy game, and this guy makes it look easier and easier every year," right fielder Kole Calhoun said. "It's a special talent that we're not going to see too many times, so enjoy it now."

Ian Kinsler and Calhoun each added solo home runs, and Felix Pena delivered four solid innings in his first MLB start to help the Angels (39-35) snap a three-game skid and secure a split of their two-game Interleague series with the D-backs.

Video: ARI@LAA: Kinsler slugs a solo homer to left field

The Angels' beleaguered bullpen bent but didn't break in the ninth inning, as Blake Parker yielded a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt that brought the D-backs within one, but Jake Lamb subsequently flew out to end the game. Parker secured the final six outs of the game to pick up his eighth save of the year.

All 38 of Pena's previous MLB outings had come in relief, but the Angels decided to convert him to a starter this season and inserted him into their rotation following the injuries to Garrett Richards and Nick Tropeano. The 28-year-old right-hander had not pitched since June 8 at any level, but he made the most of his opportunity on Tuesday, yielding one run on two hits while walking three and striking out six.

"Starting isn't the same as relieving, but I didn't feel any different," Pena said in Spanish. "I just went out on the mound and gave it my best."

Video: ARI@LAA: Pena strikes out Descalso to end the threat

In the first inning, Pena gave up a leadoff single to Jon Jay, who advanced to second on a wild pitch before taking third on another single by Jake Lamb. The D-backs got on the board after Jay scored on a forceout by David Peralta, but Pena then struck out Daniel Descalso to end the inning.

Kinsler countered by blasting Koch's third pitch of the game into the Angels' bullpen in left field for his 10th home run of the season, tying the game, 1-1. It was the 48th leadoff home run of Kinsler's career, which ranks fourth all-time.

Pena maneuvered through traffic over the next three innings, but he avoided further damage and departed after throwing 74 pitches.

"The walks kind of got in the way a little bit, got his pitch count up, but I thought Felix was fine," Scioscia said. "He used all his pitches, had good movement on his fastball, good life. He got us to a certain point in the game. We were hoping he could get maybe into the fifth, but the pitch count was getting up there a little bit for where he's been."

Left-hander Jose Alvarez took over in the fifth and retired the first two batters he faced, but Lamb then worked a walk during an 11-pitch at-bat and scored on Peralta's ensuing double to give the D-backs a 2-1 lead.

The Angels rallied in the fifth after Koch drilled Martin Maldonado and Kinsler and David Fletcher singled to load the bases with one out, setting up Trout's two-run single. Another run scored after Ketel Marte missed Jarrod Dyson's relay throw, allowing the Angels to build a 4-2 lead.

"I wasn't trying to do too much, and I got a base hit," Trout said.

Calhoun capped the Angels' offensive output with a solo home run off Koch in the sixth, collecting his second homer of the season and his first since Opening Day. Calhoun, who was batting just .145 before landing on the disabled list, is now 3-for-7 in his first two games since returning from injury.

"I was working on some things," Calhoun said. "It's nice to see it carry over right now."

Video: ARI@LAA: Calhoun rips a solo home run to extend lead

YOUNG DEPARTS
Chris Young, who started in center field on Tuesday, departed the game after six innings with a hamstring injury. Scioscia said Young sustained the injury while running to first base in the sixth inning and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday's off-day.

"Hopefully it won't keep him out too long," Scioscia said.

UP NEXT
The Angels will enjoy an off-day on Wednesday before opening a four-game series against the Blue Jays on Thursday at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (6-4, 2.81 ERA) will start opposite Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez (3-5, 4.35 ERA) in the series opener. Skaggs is 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA in three June starts. He faced the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 23 and took a no-decision after allowing three runs over five innings.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout

Soto and the 5 best homers hit by a teenager

At only 19 years old, Nationals outfield phenom Juan Soto has been the biggest teenage revelation in DC since an untamed Bryce Harper roared onto the scene in 2012. For his latest trick, Soto rewrote the rules of time and space by hitting a tater in a game that technically happened before his big league debut.

And what a majestic tater it was.

Castilla used a bone to strengthen Parra's bat

Yesterday afternoon, Rockies veteran outfielder and bold-haired individual Gerardo Parra posted an odd-looking video to his Instagram story. The video appeared to show former Rockies third baseman and current Rockies Special Assistant to the GM Vinny Castilla pushed a baseball bat against what looked to be an enormous animal bone.

Right before hitting a grand slam, Joey Votto attempted to shoo a bird away that was interrupting the game

Joey Votto never ceases to amaze us. On Tuesday night, during the Reds' 9-5 win over the Tigers, Votto watched an impressive slider delivered by Matthew Boyd go right past him. And while that first-inning at-bat didn't pan out the way he wanted, he redeemed himself in the third with a grand slam. But not before having a small encounter with a bird.

JBJ makes 'unreal' 103.4 mph throw to nab runner

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Jackie Bradley Jr. camped under a 317-foot fly ball to center field, it sure looked like the Twins were going to add an insurance run on what looked like a routine sacrifice fly.

Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon wasn't even sure Bradley would throw home. But by now, there can be no assumptions when Bradley is the one fielding.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- As Jackie Bradley Jr. camped under a 317-foot fly ball to center field, it sure looked like the Twins were going to add an insurance run on what looked like a routine sacrifice fly.

Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon wasn't even sure Bradley would throw home. But by now, there can be no assumptions when Bradley is the one fielding.

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Bradley circled around the ball to create a strong throwing angle for himself and unleashed an absolute laser. Leon gathered the throw -- which Statcast™ tracked at 103.4 mph -- and tagged Robbie Grossman out at the plate.

For the Red Sox, it was, without question, the highlight in Tuesday's 6-2 loss to the Twins at Target Field.

The throw was the hardest by an outfielder this season in the Majors. It was the fourth-hardest throw and third-hardest assist tracked by Statcast™ since the system began in 2015.

"Oh, unreal," manager Alex Cora said. "I saw him getting an angle, and I was like, 'This might be fun here.' It's kind of like showcase baseball. 'The scouts are looking, and I'm going to throw it as hard as I can to see if I can get him, and I did.' That was a great play."

Video: BOS@MIN: Bradley throws out Grossman, call confirmed

The hardest throw tracked by Statcast™ was by Aaron Hicks (105.5 mph) on April 20, 2016. Brett Phillips had the next two hardest (104.7 mph on Sept. 19, 2017, and 104.0 on Sept. 13, 2017).

Normally, Bradley would enjoy talking about taking part in a jaw-dropping highlight. But in this case, he was annoyed by making a fielding error on Eduardo Escobar's double earlier in the inning, which allowed a run to score, and because the Red Sox lost.

Video: BOS@MIN: Escobar plates LaMarre, error scores Mauer

"Just got behind the ball and made a throw," said Bradley, who has started three double plays this season. "I don't care about the throw."

Bradley's teammates enjoyed it.

"That was amazing," Leon said. "Just amazing. I wasn't sure if he was going to throw the ball. That was one of the best throws I've ever seen."

Leon didn't realize how hard the throw was until a reporter relayed the reading to him.

"That's insane," Leon said. "I thought it was 97-100, but wow."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Injury updates: Strickland, Acuna, AJ Ramos

MLB.com

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

Hunter Strickland, Evan Longoria and Johnny Cueto, Giants
Strickland fractured his right hand punching a door after his blown save against the Marlins on Monday and will require surgery, which is expected to sideline him at least six to eight weeks. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday that either left-hander Tony Watson or right-hander Sam Dyson will close games in Strickland's absence. Right-handed reliever Pierce Johnson was called up from Triple-A Sacramento in a corresponding move.

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

Hunter Strickland, Evan Longoria and Johnny Cueto, Giants
Strickland fractured his right hand punching a door after his blown save against the Marlins on Monday and will require surgery, which is expected to sideline him at least six to eight weeks. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday that either left-hander Tony Watson or right-hander Sam Dyson will close games in Strickland's absence. Right-handed reliever Pierce Johnson was called up from Triple-A Sacramento in a corresponding move.

Bochy also said "all went well" in the surgery to repair Longoria's broken hand, and the third baseman is heading to Arizona. He'll be in a cast for a couple of days and rejoin the team in San Francisco on Friday or Saturday to begin rehab.

After throwing a two-inning simulated game Monday, Cueto is also doing well and likely will not need another simulation. More >

Injury report

J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, Pat Neshek and Jerad Eickhoff, Phillies
The Phillies will be without Crawford for a lengthy stretch, as the infielder sustained a fractured left hand in Tuesday night's tough 7-6 loss to the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. Crawford, who took a 93.8 mph Luke Weaver fastball off his left hand during the fourth inning, is expected to miss four to six weeks. More >

Williams broke his nose during Monday night's game, but does not have a concussion. After undergoing concussion tests Monday and Tuesday, he told team doctors he could play Tuesday. He was held out of the lineup, but manager Gabe Kapler expects him to return Wednesday.

Neshek will throw live batting practice in Clearwater, Fla., on Wednesday. He is rehabbing a right flexor strain that he aggravated while coming back from a right shoulder strain sustained during Spring Training.

Eickhoff threw a bullpen session Tuesday afternoon. He hasn't pitched in the Majors this season while dealing with an issue in his right index and middle fingers, but the Phillies expect to have him back this season. More >

Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
Acuna has spent the past two days 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 >

AJ Ramos, Mets
The Mets announced Tuesday that Ramos will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, ending his season and perhaps his Mets career. Ramos, who can become a free agent after this season, briefly debated the benefits of surgery versus more conservative rehabilitation, but ultimately decided to schedule the operation for Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. More >

Travis Shaw, Brewers
Shaw missed a second straight game Tuesday with a sore right wrist, but reported improvement after taking some afternoon swings in the batting cage. He felt a twinge in his wrist during his second at-bat of Sunday's loss to the Phillies and underwent precautionary X-rays, which showed no structural damage, before the Brewers took off for Pittsburgh. More >

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 concerning 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. He gave up three runs on four hits in one-third of an inning on Sunday for Pawtucket, but is expected to make his next rehab appearance on Thursday. More >

Matt Chapman and Matt Joyce, A's
Chapman, placed on the disabled list last week with a right thumb contusion, went through a series of tests under the watch of Dr. Steven Shin at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles on Monday. The results were similar to those discovered by Shin upon Chapman's visit during Spring Training.

Meanwhilte, Joyce (lumbar strain), who picked up three hits in his second rehab game with Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday, is expected to be activated from the disabled list sometime during the club's four-game series in Chicago, beginning Thursday. More >

Joey Lucchesi, Franchy Cordero, Austin Hedges and Wil Myers, Padres
Lucchesi will be activated from the disabled list Wednesday. He's slated to start against the A's after missing five weeks with a right hip strain. For a rotation lacking serious depth, Lucchesi's return couldn't come soon enough.

Cordero, meanwhile, had his rehab stint shut down after he felt a recurrence of his right forearm strain while swinging Sunday. He visited with Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday, and the Padres are poring over test results before deciding on a course of action.

Cordero's continued absence could be mitigated slightly by the pending return of Myers. The Padres' right fielder has been on the disabled list since April with a left oblique strain. Myers could be back as soon as this weekend in San Francisco. Catcher Hedges -- who is rehabbing right elbow tendinitis and also hasn't played since April -- could join him. More >

Francisco Liriano, Tigers
Liriano is back with the team after his rehab start Sunday night for Triple-A Toledo, and is on track to return from the disabled list and start for the Tigers over the weekend in Cleveland. It'll be his first start since May 26, having missed the last few weeks with a right hamstring strain. Manager Ron Gardenhire is not saying yet which game in Cleveland he'll start. More >

Shohei Ohtani, Angels
Ohtani has begun his rehabilitation regimen, which includes one-armed swings, running and general strength training. Ohtani was seen in the Angels' clubhouse on Monday with no sleeve, brace or other form of protection on his right arm.

Manager Mike Scioscia didn't provide a specific timetable on Ohtani's recovery process, saying only that the two-way phenom would be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks. Scioscia also didn't expand on whether he'd be willing to use Ohtani as a hitter if the elbow sprain prevented him from pitching, although Scioscia did say that Ohtani's "swing is not impacting his ligament at all." More >

Clayton Kershaw, Tony Cingrani and Chase Utley, Dodgers
After Kershaw threw an impressive three-inning simulated game at Wrigley Field on Monday, the Dodgers' ace appears ready to return. Manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw will start at Triple-A Oklahoma City this weekend.

Kershaw has pitched in one MLB game since May 1. He went on the disabled list after that game with left biceps tendinitis. He came back for one start, on May 31, then went back on the DL with a lower back strain.

Video: LAD@CHC: Roberts on Kershaw tossing simulated game

Roberts confirmed that Cingrani, who is on the disabled list with a strained left rotator cuff, has backed off his workload after "he felt a little something" throwing last week. Roberts said there is no timetable for Cingrani's return but that Utley will be activated on Tuesday or Wednesday. More >

Carlos Carrasco, Indians
Indians manager Terry Francona noted before Monday's game against the White Sox that an MRI exam, along with X-rays, on Carrasco confirmed the team's diagnosis of a contusion on his pitching elbow. Carrasco, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, will receive treatment before being evaluated on Wednesday. More >

Yanks' 118 homers through 70 games a record pace

Stanton, Andujar, Hicks, Torres flex their muscles
MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' offense continued to showcase its power against the Mariners on Tuesday, slugging four home runs in a 7-2 victory.

New York's 118 homers ties the 2000 Cardinals for the second-most hit through the first 70 games of the season, trailing just the 1999 Mariners, who hit 130, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees' offense continued to showcase its power against the Mariners on Tuesday, slugging four home runs in a 7-2 victory.

New York's 118 homers ties the 2000 Cardinals for the second-most hit through the first 70 games of the season, trailing just the 1999 Mariners, who hit 130, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

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Coming off a four-hit night against the Nationals on Monday, Giancarlo Stanton started Tuesday's slugfest in the first inning. The slugger blasted the first pitch he saw from Marco Gonzales -- a 79.3-mph curveball -- 426 feet that had an exit velocity of 111.5 mph, according to Statcast™.

In just 72 at-bats against left-handed pitching, Stanton has hit .347 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs.

Video: SEA@NYY: Stanton mashes a solo big fly to center

"It's a lot of fun," Stanton said of the team's power surge. "It's fun to watch from the inside, and I'm sure it's fun to watch being a fan. Yeah, we were clicking on all cylinders tonight."

With the game tied at 1 in the fifth, Miguel Andujar launched a two-run homer to left-center field, snapping an 0-for-14 skid. According to Statcast™, it had a projected distance of 427 feet with an exit velocity of 110.3 mph. It was the fifth of the rookie's nine long balls hit this season that have either tied the game or given the Yankees the lead.

Video: SEA@NYY: Andujar hammers a 2-run big fly to left

"I stayed positive," Andujar said. "I know I can hit. I go to home plate with a plan and do my job, and try to hit the ball hard."

Two batters later, Aaron Hicks followed suit by hitting a two-run shot of his own to left-center on a first-pitch, 83.4-mph changeup from Gonzales to give New York a 5-1 lead. Hicks has now hit a home run in a career-high three straight games and four of his last six.

Video: SEA@NYY: Hicks sticks 2-run homer into bullpen bench

"Especially from the right side most of the year, he's been in a really good power position and impacting the ball, not so much hooking the ball, but straight out to left-center and center," manager Aaron Boone said. "He's playing well for us and playing a big role for us in helping us win games."

"Keep riding that streak as much as possible," Hicks said. "Make sure I stay humble with it and just continue to try to help your team win."

Gleyber Torres got in on the fun in the eighth, hitting a solo shot on an 0-1, 93.2-mph fastball off Seattle reliever Nick Rumbelow. Torres has hit 14 home runs, which ties Aaron Judge for third-most through a player's first 50 career games in franchise history. Torres trails Gary Sanchez (19) and Kevin Maas (15).

Video: SEA@NYY: Torres crushes a solo homer to left field

"I think every day I take more experience to every at-bat and I take more maturity, for sure, and I feel better every day," said Torres. "I just try to put the ball in play. I try to have good contact and look for my pitch and try to help my team."

"I've just kind of been impressed with how well they've done," Boone said of Torres and Andujar. "They've been huge for us. They've been impact players for us. Just really proud of the way they've handled themselves, the way they've shown the ability to make adjustments. And I think they're just kind of showing the baseball world that they're really good players."

"We have good players here," Andujar said. "Everyone here can hit."

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres