Big League Stew
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew45 mins ago
It's no secret that Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg has not looked comfortable over the last month. With each abbreviated outing that goes by, the concern surrounding his health and perhaps even his focus have continued to grow and have left many wondering what it might take to get him on track.
On Friday night in Cincinnati, the concern seemed poised to reach its peak when Strasburg was lifted from his start against the Reds after just 16 pitches. Strasburg had walked Brayan Pena to begin the inning and was then tended to by the Nationals athletic trainer before walking off the mound and heading to Washington's clubhouse.
The Nationals were mum on Strasburg's status throughout the game, offering nothing more than standard information. Afterward, however, they did provide an update that was surprisingly encouraging. Strasburg was dealing with neck muscle tightness, which is much better news than soreness or a setback impacting his surgically repaired elbow.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew3 hrs ago
Look out, folks. Not only is Josh Hamilton back in the Texas Rangers lineup, it looks like he's getting locked in quicker than perhaps even the Rangers themselves could have hoped for.
After producing just one hit in 10 at bats and admittedly looking rusty in Cleveland, he's looked much more comfortable since returning to Arlington. In fact, after being greeted warmly by the crowd at Globe Life Park on Thursday, Hamilton ripped a first-pitch double that sent the crowd into a frenzy and put a stamp on his comeback.
On Friday, he took two more big strides, launching his first two home runs of the season.
Hamilton's first big fly came in the second inning against Boston Red Sox starter Steven Wright. Wright attempted to catch Hamilton with a 3-2 curveball, which is a pitch Hamilton has struggled with since his return. However, Wright left this one up and out over the plate, allowing the Rangers outfielder to yank it over the right field fence for the game's first tally.
- Mark Townsend at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
When pondering the perfect ballpark experience, for many of us that vision includes enjoying a large plate of nachos and cheese, watching our favorite team win the game, and above all else catching a game used baseball.
Of course, in reality, we know two out of those three coming true is about the best we can truly hope for, with the whole catching a baseball thing a distant fantasy. However, for one fan of the Texas Rangers on Thursday, the nachos and the baseball were literally in her lap just as she was taking her seat during the first inning of their game against the Boston Red Sox.
It was a dream scenario, only it wasn't, because like we said, the nachos and baseball were literally in her lap.
The timing was a just a little off, which left her unprepared to make a play on Prince Fielder's foul ball. Instead, the baseball bounced off her plate and the plate literally exploded, sending nachos and cheese flying everywhere, and the baseball rolling at her feet.
It's not clear who ended up with the ball, but we can safely say that was a dream scenario turned nightmare.
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
A large portion of the fan voting for the All-Star Game is a popularity contest. This shouldn't come as a shock. We all remember Derek Jeter making it during his final season even though his numbers were far below average.
This approach can sometimes lead to lesser-known players getting snubbed despite excellent numbers. Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt could fall into that category this season. Vogt did rank second at catcher on the first American League balloting update, but he trails the unstoppable Salvador Perez.
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew8 hrs ago
The frustrations continue to mount with the Miami Marlins. Within the past two weeks, the club has undergone a number of changes, starting with the firing of manager Mike Redmond just 38 games into the season.
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew11 hrs ago
Jon Stewart has conducted a lot of interviews during his career. He's talked to actors, musicians, politicians and presidents.
A man with that type of history probably doesn't get flustered by guests anymore. That was not the case Thursday night. New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey appeared on "The Daily Show," and Stewart, a Mets fan, loved every minute of it.
Stewart does a good job capturing what it must be like to be a Mets fan right now. After so many poor decisions, it's starting to look like the team is relevant again. Harvey has been, and should continue to be, a major part of that resurgence.
Also, the bit about Harvey's elbow was pretty great. The hopes of a lot of people in New York ride on that elbow, so it's best to make sure it's pampered constantly.
- Ian Denomme at Big League Stew11 hrs ago
Nearly 47 years to the day after Montreal was awarded an expansion Major League Baseball franchise, the city’s current mayor met this week with commissioner Rob Manfred to discuss resurrecting the Expos.
Montreal has been without baseball since 2004 when the Expos were moved to Washington and became the Nationals. But on Thursday, Mayor Denis Coderre took a big step in his attempts to bring back baseball when he met with Manfred in New York to show him that Montreal is “serious about baseball.”
For the past two seasons the Toronto Blue Jays have held exhibition games in Montreal at Olympic stadium, all of which were well received and had 45,000-plus fans in attendance. Now Coderre wants to bring "three or four" regular-season games to Montrealin 2016.
- Ian Denomme at Big League Stew13 hrs ago
After missing a month with a forearm strain and wrist tendonitis, New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka appears ready to rejoin the rotation. After just two rehab starts in Triple-A Tanaka flew with the Yankees to Oakland on Thursday for the start of seven-game West Coast road trip.
Tanaka will start in Seattle on Tuesday or Wednesday and will have an 80-pitch limit in his first start, Yankees manager Joe Girardi told USA Today.
“You want him to feel good, number one,” Girardi said. “Number two, you want him to feel comfortable with his stuff, that he feels that he’s ready to go. You don’t want someone going out there if they don’t quite feel that they’re ready to go. In a perfect world, he would start somewhere in Seattle.
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew21 hrs 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.
The Boston Red Sox may have found an answer to their pitching woes Thursday against the Texas Rangers. Rookie Eduardo Rodriguez looked fantastic in his major-league debut, picking up the win during the 5-1 victory.
Rodriguez puzzled the Texas hitters all night. He allowed just three hits and two walks over 7 2/3 scoreless frames. Rodriguez nearly went eight full innings, but was pulled after putting two men on with two outs. He tossed 105 pitches during the outing.
With the start, Rodriguez accomplished something that hadn't been done for some time.
Rodriguez is 1st MLB left-hander since Karl Spooner in 1954 to have scoreless debut longer than 7.0 IP with 7+ SO and no more than 3 hits.
Prior to the contest, there was some question about whether this would be a spot start for Rodriguez. Given his exceptional performance, it's looking like he may have secured at least one more start in the majors.
- Chris Cwik at Big League Stew23 hrs ago
Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang was signed for his prodigious pop. The 28-year-old slugged an incredible 40 home runs during his final season in the Korean Baseball Organization.
While the level of offense is thought to be much higher in the KBO, Kang is starting to show that his power wasn't a product of the league. He showed off that ability Thursday against the San Diego Padres.
With two men on in the first inning, Kang stepped to the plate against Ian Kennedy. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Kang belted an 85 mph slider to deep left center for the three-run shot.
Petco Park, which has typically been one of the more difficult places to hit a home run, couldn't contain Kang's pop. He managed to belt the ball to the second deck. The home run traveled 430 feet.
At the beginning of the season, Kang was used as more of a part-time, utility player. He's received regular playing time recently, and is starting to reward the Pirates for their offseason investment.
Over 116 plate appearances, Kang is hitting a robust .308/.371/.462. He's belted three home runs with Pittsburgh.