Mark Townsend

  • Norge Luis Ruiz, Cuba's top pitching prospect, is headed to America

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 40 mins ago

    The influx of talent from Cuba has been increasing rapidly in recent months and that continues with a player who many scouts believe was the best pitching prospect remaining on the island. 

    Norge Luis Ruiz, a 21-year-old right-hander, is headed to America according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez with the intention of signing a big league contract.

    Sources tell me top Cuban RHP prospect Norge Luis Ruiz, 21, has left the island and will be seeking a Major League contract. #Cuba

    In a subscription-only post less than one month ago, Baseball America's Ben Badler rated Ruiz the top pitcher in Cuba and the island's eighth best prospect overall. The initial belief is Ruiz's stuff could translate to a mid-rotation pitcher in MLB, though obviously at 21 there's still room for development and improvement. 

    [Woah, The Stew has a podcast now?! Yep, you should listen.]

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  • Dodgers pitching faces the minimum in shutout against Padres

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 hr ago

    Take a look around the league with Big League Stew's daily wrap up. We'll hit on all of the biggest moments from the day that you may have missed, while providing highlights, photos and interesting stats.

    How's this for a pitching performance? Los Angeles Dodgers starter Mike Bolsinger allowed a leadoff single to San Diego's Yangervis Solarte in the first inning, and that was it for the evening.

    Bolsinger, who's been thrust into action following injuries to Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, recovered to induce a ground ball double play from Cory Spangenberg and strike out Matt Kemp to end the first inning. From there, he retired the next 21 batters in succession until being lifted following the eighth inning.

    Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth and continued the roll, setting down all three batters he faced to wrap up the 2-0 victory.

    Offensively, the Dodgers had all they needed one batter into the game. Joc Pederson, who hit the game-winning homer in Friday's win, launched a leadoff blast on Saturday. Howie Kendrick also homered off Dan Haren.

  • Brian Matusz ejected for having foreign substance on arm

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 hrs ago

    Baltimore Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz was ejected in the 12th inning of Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Miami Marlins after umpires discovered a foreign substance on his non-throwing arm.

    Matusz was in his first inning of work and had already retired Justin Bour and J.T. Realmuto when new Marlins manager Dan Jennings emerged from the dugout to request that Matusz's right arm be checked for the substance. Home plate umpire Jordan Baker and crew chief Paul Emmel complied and quickly discovered the substance. Matusz was immediately ejected.

    It's the exact scenario that played out with Milwaukee Brewers reliever Will Smith on Thursday, which makes it all the more baffling that Matusz would carelessly leave the substance on his arm. Smith was levied an eight-game suspension, so it's safe to assume Matusz's impending punishment will follow suit.

    Glad to see the age of Performance Enhancing Sunscreen is upon us. Just make the stuff legal so we're spared the faux morality of it all.

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  • It's official: Josh Hamilton will join Rangers on Monday

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 5 hrs ago

    The Texas Rangers have set a time and a place for Josh Hamilton's return.

    Speaking on Saturday night, general manager Jon Daniels confirmed that Hamilton will be activated and available for duty when they meet the Cleveland Indians on Monday at Progressive Field. Hamilton is scheduled to fly into Cleveland on Sunday where his teammates will meet him following their Sunday night game against the New York Yankees.

    Hamilton was scheduled to play one final rehab game for the Triple-A Round Rock Express on Saturday night. That game was postponed by rain, but the Rangers elected to stick to their plan to activate Hamilton on Monday, citing that he'd proven himself to be ready physically.

    Jon Daniels on Hamilton: "Josh is physically and game ready to get started." Triple A Round Rock was rained out Saturday.

    Hamilton finishes his 12-game rehab stint with a .364/.391/.545 batting line between Round Rock and Double-A Frisco. He homered in his final game with Frisco on Wednesday and delivered five doubles in 44-at bats. He struck out 10 times.

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  • David Wright diagnosed with spinal stenosis, return date remains uncertain

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 6 hrs ago

    As of Friday, New York Mets third baseman David Wright appeared to be nearing a rehab assignment as he worked his way back from a strained right hamstring suffered in April.

    However, as learned on Saturday, the concern has now shifted to his ailing back and a condition that could potentially threaten or at least shorten his career. 

    According to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, Wright has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which means he has a narrowing of the spinal column.

    The #Mets have diagnosed David Wright with stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column. They believe he will heal, but it will take time.

    The Mets are obviously approaching this with optimism, but one can't ignore the fact that spinal stenosis played a role in Lenny Dykstra's retirement from MLB in 1998 and also led to New York Giants running back David Wilson retiring during training camp in 2014. 

    Different times in history, different sports and perhaps different circumstances related to the injury, but still not a promising precedent for the Mets captain.

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  • Yankees losing streak reaches five after lopsided loss to Rangers

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 9 hrs ago

    It might be premature to say the wheels have come off the New York Yankees, but the evidence during their current five-game losing streak certainly hasn't been encouraging.

    After dropping the series finale in Kansas City and being swept by the Nationals in a quick two-game series to begin the week, the Yankees returned home for a weekend series against the Texas Rangers and have promptly dropped the first two, including Saturday's lopsided 15-4 loss. 

    Looking back to Friday, if you look strictly at the 10-9 final, the takeaway might be that New York continued battling offensively and nearly pulled off a dramatic victory. While it's true the offense was resilient, it's their overall play and the circumstances that hover over their play that are most troubling.

    With Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova already out injured, Chase Whitley headed for Tommy John surgery and CC Sabathia struggling to find his footing, the starting rotation is a mixed and matched group with only one consistent source of production this season: Michael Pineda.

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    Ouch.

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  • Reds manager Bryan Price ejected before game against Indians

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 11 hrs ago

    Apparently, Bryan Price had something better to do than stick around at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The Cincinnati Reds manager was actually ejected from Saturday's afternoon game against the Cleveland Indians before the first pitch was even thrown.

    Price was given the heave-ho by crew chief Jim Reynolds as the lineup cards were being exchanged at home plate. The two engaged in a heated exchange that continued even as the Indians players took the field. Growing tired of the confrontation, Reynolds threw out Price on the spot and the game began with Jay Bell serving as Cincinnati's skipper.

    It wasn't immediately clear what led Price to confront the umpires, though there's speculation that issues with Friday's home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez may have carried over. We'll know more once Price meets with the media following Saturday's game.

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    The ejection was Price's second of the season.

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  • Brandon Belt nearly visits Coors Field party deck with mammoth homer

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 12 hrs ago

    Just when you thought it was safe to party at Coors Field on a Friday night, Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants is here to crash it. Or at the very least make you reconsider your choices in life.

    During Friday's wild 11-8 victory against the Rockies, Belt unloaded on a Kyle Kendrick offering and sent a towering, almost majestic blast to the upper deck in right field, just a few rows short of the relatively new party deck.

    It's an area of Coors Field that a scarce few have reached in its 20-year history, though that list is now populated by three Giants. In addition to Belt, Barry Bonds and, wait for this one, Nate Schierholtz have also reached that section. 

    Brandon Belt's home run, at 475 feet, was the longest at Coors Field since Milton Bradley hit one 479 feet in 2004 for the Dodgers.

    As always, the distance is up for some debate. According to MLB's statcast data, it traveled 475 feet, which would easily rank among the longest home runs hit in MLB this season along with Alex Rodriguez and Giancarlo Stanton. ESPN's Hit Tracker estimated a more conservative 437 feet of true distance, which wouldn't even crack their top 25. 

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  • Hyun-jin Ryu pitched with torn labrum for two years

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 14 hrs ago

    On Wednesday, we learned that Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu — the team's No. 3 starter the past two seasons behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke — would be facing surgery on his ailing left shoulder and would likely miss the remainder of the 2015.

    The news didn't come as a total shock to the general public. Ryu had been dealing with shoulder issues dating back to spring training with little to no consistent improvement. However, as we learned from Ryu himself on Friday, it came as no surprise at all to the Dodgers, because former general manager Ned Colletti actually signed Ryu in late 2012 already knowing he had a torn labrum.

    Of course, the Ryu signing has already proven more productive. In two seasons, the now 28-year-old left-hander has made 56 starts and won 28 games while posting a 3.17 ERA in 344 innings.

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  • Nationals-Phillies engaged in an epic post-anthem standoff

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 15 hrs ago

     

    The staredown, as it were, played out for several minutes, including a national television commercial break and pregame warmups, and seemed poised to continue through the game's first pitch before home plate umpire Greg Gibson interjected and ordered both players to the dugout.

    For a one time only event, it was harmless and good for a laugh. But we can't say it's a one time only event, because It was brought back by Aaron Barrett of the Washington Nationals and Brandon Barnes of the Colorado Rockies in 2014. And now it's back in 2015 too, thanks to Barrett and a group of Philadelphia Phillies. 

    Actually, the Phillies were involved in perhaps what should be considered a practice run on Thursday in Colorado, and then again with Barrett's Nationals on Friday, and this one was epic.

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    Here's how James Wagner of the Washington Post described it.

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