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American League team-by-team notebook -- Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The SportsXchange

Baltimore: RHP Chris Tillman made a strong return to action Monday, throwing six innings of one-run ball to beat Seattle. He hadn't pitched since Sept. 2 due to an inflamed nerve in his right elbow. ... 3B Manny Machado has exceeded the maximum number of at-bats for a player to be considered a rookie the following season. "I can still keep playing, and there are honors you can get out there that aren't about being a rookie," he told the Baltimore Sun.

Boston: RHP John Lackey, who had Tommy John surgery last November, threw live batting practice at Tropicana Field. He is scheduled to pitch in an intrasquad game Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla., against instructional league players. ... LHP Andrew Miller struggled as a starter early in his career but has thrived as a reliever this year. "I think he could be a dominating force in the bullpen," manager Bobby Valentine said. "I'm not sure how that would translate as a starter. He's still developing."

Chicago: OF Alejandro De Aza was back starting after manager Robin Ventura gave him a two-game breather. De Aza had been 0-for-9 in his previous two games, and he'd hit .234 in his previous 42 games. ... In the offseason, GM Ken Williams discussed 160 innings as a limit for LHP Chris Sale. The reliever-turned-starter has already thrown 175 innings heading into his start Wednesday at Kansas City.

Cleveland: DH Travis Hafner is expected to be back in the lineup at some point this week. He has been out since Aug. 6 due to lower back inflammation. ... RH reliever Esmil Rogers had a 2.54 ERA in 37 appearances for the Indians through Monday after posting an 8.06 ERA in 23 games with the Rockies earlier this season. "We feel good about his ability to pitch in the middle of the game or late in the game," manager Manny Acta said.

Detroit: RHP Max Scherzer lasted only two innings before exiting due to right shoulder fatigue. He allowed one run on two hits. Scherzer had averaged more than seven innings in his previous six starts. ... C Alex Avila was not medically cleared to play for the second consecutive game. Avila took a blow to the jaw from 1B Prince Fielder while chasing a foul ball Sunday in Cleveland, and he developed an immediate headache when he took batting practice Monday in Chicago.

Kansas City: RHP Luis Mendoza will miss his start Wednesday against the White Sox due to strep throat. The team was off Monday, so manager Ned Yost will move up LHP Bruce Chen and RHP Jeremy Guthrie a day in the rotation and start them the final two games against Chicago. ... Yost, on whether he gets comfort from playing playoff-contending teams close but coming up short: "We're kind of, as a group, past the comfort stage. We want to win."

Los Angeles: Nick Maronde has emerged as a key situational lefty reliever since his promotion as a September call-up. Maronde had faced 16 batters in seven scoreless appearances (4 1/3 innings) entering play Tuesday, and he'd walked two and allowed one hit while striking out six. ... 1B Albert Pujols, on the Angels' rough remaining schedule: "When did this game ever get easy? Nothing is easy in this game."

Minnesota: RHP Samuel Deduno has allowed 48 walks in 13 starts (75 innings), but he's convinced he can master his control. "Every start, my confidence grows, then I say, 'I know I can do that. I know I can pitch a good game,'" he said. ... Assistant GM Rob Antony, on a rotation that might not have an established No. 1 starter next year: "Everyone says the only way to win is to have an ace. We had (Johan) Santana. He was an ace; we didn't win it all."

New York: SS Derek Jeter (bruised left ankle) got a day off thanks to the rainout, but manager Joe Girardi was uncertain whether he would be able to play Jeter in one or two games during Wednesday's split doubleheader. "My guess is he'll tell me he feels great and he'll want to play both, but I'll have to see," Girardi said. ... 1B Mark Teixeira (strained left calf) is healing slowly. He does not figure to return to the lineup until late next week.

Oakland: CF Coco Crisp was back in the lineup after missing one game due to allergic conjunctivitis. He entered play having hit .233 in his past 21 games. ... RH reliever Andrew Carignan, who had Tommy John surgery in June, will begin a throwing program Oct. 7, according to MLB.com. He is not expected back until midseason next year.

Seattle: RF Casper Wells was back in the lineup after missing three games due to a shoulder injury. He had started just one of the previous 10 games overall. ... RHP Hector Noesi returned to the rotation Monday for the first time since July 4, and he allowed seven runs (six earned) in 1 1/3 innings against the Orioles. Noesi, who last won in the big leagues on May 6, has dropped nine consecutive decisions to fall to 2-12.

Tampa Bay: RHP Jeff Niemann, sidelined since Sept. 1 due to rotator cuff inflammation, has yet to be cleared to throw off the mound, making it less likely he will be able to pitch again this season. The Sept. 1 outing was Niemann's first appearance since his right leg was broken in mid-May. ... Evan Longoria returned to the lineup, serving as the designated hitter, and said he expects to play every remaining game this season. He sat Monday due to "heavy legs."

Texas: RHP Colby Lewis signed a one-year contract for 2013 that will pay a base salary of $2 million but could earn him up to another $4 million in incentives. Lewis had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right arm in July. He might be able to return before the All-Star break. ... IF/DH Michael Young, on the final 16-game stretch in which the Rangers play 13 times against the Angels and A's: "We know what to expect. There's nothing that can be thrown at us that we haven't experienced."

Toronto: SS Yunel Escobar received a three-game suspension from Major League Baseball for putting a homophobic slur, in Spanish, on the eye black he wore during Saturday's game. Escobar must take part in sensitivity training and an educational outreach effort focused on tolerance. ... The Blue Jays' Class AAA affiliate will move from Las Vegas to Buffalo next year. Toronto's top farm club had been located in Las Vegas since 2009, the same year Buffalo began its affiliation with the Mets that ended this season. Buffalo and Toronto reached a two-year agreement. ... IF Adeiny Hechavarria is hitting .232, but manager John Farrell is optimistic about the rookie's offensive potential. "He's kept his bat in the zone; he's not pulled off pitches," Farrell said. "He's hit some balls the other way, and he's shown a solid, consistent approach at the plate."
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