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National League notebook -- Monday, May 21, 2012

The SportsXchange

Arizona: 3B Josh Bell's contract was purchased from Class AAA Reno, and manager Kirk Gibson said he will get a chance to start regularly for a while. Bell, a former top prospect of the Dodgers, was hitting .381 with four homers and 30 RBI in 26 games after being acquired from Baltimore in late April. Bell has spent parts of two seasons in the majors with the Orioles. With Bell as the starter, 3B Ryan Roberts will assume a bench role and also could play some second base, Gibson said. ... 3B Cody Ransom, who hit .269 with four homers and 13 RBI in 52 at-bats after being purchased from Reno in mid-April, was designated for assignment to make room on the roster. Ransom drew interest from numerous clubs before re-signing with the D-backs as a minor league free agent last winter, and the D-backs would like to keep him in the organization.

Atlanta: 3B Chipper Jones remained out of the lineup for the third straight game because of a bruised left leg. Jones is being honored by the Reds with commemorative bases emblazoned on their sides with "CELEBRATING THE CAREER OF #10 CHIPPER JONES" and the logos of the Reds and Braves. Later in the four-game series, the Reds will present one of the game-used bases to Jones, one to the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame and one to the Reds Hall of Fame. ... LH reliever Jonny Venters had a 7.11 ERA, .411 opponents' batting average and four hit batsmen in six innings this month after his appearance Sunday, when he hit the first two batters he faced. Manager Fredi Gonzalez and C David Ross told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Venters' shoulder was "flying open" when he threw.

Chicago: RF David DeJesus remained in the leadoff spot one day after manager Dale Sveum said Sunday he was "thinking about" making changes at the top of the order. Sveum left SS Starlin Castro in the third spot but also hinted at moving Castro, who had his best success last year as a leadoff hitter. ... The Cubs have used three rookie catchers this year for the first time since 1974. Blake Lalli became the third rookie catcher to see action, joining Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger. With No. 1 C Geovany Soto on the DL (knee surgery), the Cubs traded for veteran C Koyie Hill over the weekend.

Cincinnati: LH Aroldis Chapman is the Reds' new closer -- most of the time. "We're graduating to this point," manager Dusty Baker said. "You just don't thrust him in there. Last year was different he had seven walks per nine innings. That's lot when you're a closer. We still got to monitor him." ... The previous closer, LH reliever Sean Marshall, got bailed out Sunday when RH reliever Jose Arredondo retired the Yankees' Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson on groundouts. "That why I brought him in that situation," Baker said. "Every team needs a groundball reliever."

Colorado: LHP Jamie Moyer's start made Marlins Park the 50th major league park where he has pitched, the most in history. Former RH reliever Rudy Seanez is second with 47. ... Dexter Fowler's first career pinch-hit home run Sunday was the fourth of the season for the Rockies. That led the majors -- the Cubs and Rangers had three apiece. The Rockies' franchise record is 11 pinch-hit home runs in 1995, which was a 144-game season that began late because of the player strike.

Houston: RH reliever Enerio Del Rosario was recalled from Class AAA Oklahoma City. He took the roster spot of RHP Jordan Lyles, who was sent down Sunday after giving up six runs to Texas, including five in the first inning. ... C Chris Snyder enjoyed his first taste of the Astros-Rangers series, which becomes a division rivalry next year. "In a game like this, this atmosphere, that's October baseball," Snyder said. "On every play, every pitch, something's going on."

Los Angeles: OF-1B Scott Van Slyke, one night after hitting his first major league home run, batted cleanup in his ninth major league game. Van Slyke played first base for the first time in his major league career. ... 3B Juan Uribe met with a hand specialist to examine his injured left wrist, and the report was good. Uribe is scheduled to begin baseball activities this week. "I'm really happy," he told the Los Angeles Times. "I feel like it will go quick now."

Miami: LF Logan Morrison started at first base, his position in the minor leagues, for the second consecutive game. Morrison has been in and out of the lineup this season because of a sore knee that was operated on in December. Morrison has been taking grounders at first on off days and had played 7 2/3 innings at first base this season before the last two games. ... Manager Ozzie Guillen said there's a chance 2B Omar Infante might return tonight but he said he is prepared for Infante to miss the team's three-game series against the Rockies. Infante left the team Sunday morning and returned to his native Venezuela after learning that his grandfather died.

Milwaukee: RF Corey Hart made his first start at first base since June 3, 2006, his only other start at the position. He became the first Brewers first baseman to bat leadoff since Mark Loretta on Sept. 21, 1999. Manager Ron Roenicke said Sunday he was contemplating moving Hart after 1B Mat Gamel was lost for the season with a knee injury. ... C George Kottaras, who normally catches LHP Randy Wolf, did so again even though No. 1 C Jonathan Lucroy tied a franchise record with seven RBI on Sunday and was batting .400 with 11 RBI during a seven-game hitting streak.

New York: 1B Ike Davis was benched despite manager Terry Collins' previous contention that he would play Davis against Pirates LHP Erik Bedard. Davis is batting .163 in 135 at-bats this season, leading the Mets to consider demoting him to the minors. ... C Josh Thole traveled to Florida to begin baseball activities, and LF Jason Bay went there to increase the intensity of his rehab from a fractured left rib. Thole has been sidelined since May 8 with a concussion but has been performing cardiovascular work for the last week and has not experienced any symptoms. Bay is scheduled to begin taking batting practice Wednesday, with the intention of appearing in minor league games as soon as next week. ... UT Vinny Rottino was recalled from Class AAA Buffalo, and RHP Chris Schwinden was optioned to Buffalo.

Philadelphia: RHP Vance Worley sought a second opinion on his sore right elbow and was examined by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. Worley has a bone chip in the elbow. "He has a small body embedded in the lining of his joint," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We don't think it's the reason why he had inflammation, but it's possible. This is something that's not very uncommon." ... 3B Placido Polanco (left ankle) was back in the lineup after missing four games.

Pittsburgh: IF-OF Josh Harrison got his first start in the outfield. He'd been used at second base, third base and shortstop, but manager Clint Hurdle isn't in a position to leave any bat on his bench. "We're going to get Josh out there," Hurdle said. "He's taken flyballs every day. He's ready for it." ... LH reliever Jeff Locke's promotion from the minors Sunday united for the first time all four players involved in the big 2008 trade with Atlanta in which OF Nate McLouth went to the Braves for Locke, RHP Charlie Morton and CF Gorkys Hernandez. McLouth was re-signed as a free agent over the winter. "This is kind of weird, looking around and seeing all those guys," McLouth said.

St. Louis: 1B Lance Berkman was found to have a meniscus tear in his right knee, an MRI showed, and is expected to have the knee operated on in Vail, Colo., later this week. GM John Mozeliak estimated Berkman, who earlier had been on the disabled list with a left calf strain, would be out a minimum of six to eight weeks. "Based on what they could see today, there was no ACL tear," Mozeliak said, although Berkman later said he still suspected there might be. He will be re-examined in Vail before any surgery is performed. ... Manager Mike Matheny likes what he has seen of Berkman's 23-year-old replacement, 1B Matt Adams. "He's a pretty mature hitter for his age and experience," Matheny said. "He has a short, powerful swing and the ability to stay within himself and not try to do too much. He has the ability to go to both fields. Power is a rare commodity and he's got some. Defensively, he does a nice job, too." ... 3B David Freese, already locked in an awful slump, hit rock bottom Sunday, fanning four times on four at-bats, mostly on high fastballs. Freese was 3 for his last 34, all three hits coming in the same game.

San Diego: LHP Cory Luebke is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday. Luebke, 27, opted for surgery on a partially torn ligament after he considered trying to rehab the elbow. He's expected to be out until early in the 2013 season. ... CF Cameron Maybin had 40 infield hits last season, the second-highest total in Padres history. He had two through the first quarter of the 2012 season. That partially explains why Maybin was hitting .210 this season through Sunday compared to .264 last season. If you added eight hits to his 2012 stats at the one-quarter mark of the season, Maybin would be hitting .267.

San Francisco: CF Angel Pagan was out of the lineup because of food poisoning. Manager Bruce Bochy said he hoped Pagan can return today. ... Bochy said he has no plans to skip RHP Tim Lincecum in the rotation. The Giants are 2-7 in games Lincecum pitches, and his ERA is 6.04. "He's still so close," Bochy told reporters. "You look how well he's throwing. I know it's the same story, one bad inning. When he got out of the stretch he was out of synch a little bit, but you've got to throw some bad luck in there."

Washington: RHP Stephen Strasburg will make his next start on schedule, manager Davey Johnson said. Strasburg came out of his start Sunday because of arm fatigue. "I wasn't really concerned that much yesterday when he came out," Johnson told The Washington Post. "It was just normal tightness. But anything at all with him, that's it." ... One quarter of the way through the season, the Nationals had their best record since arriving in D.C. (24-17). Their previous top mark was that first season, 2005, when they started 23-18. The last time the Expos/Nationals franchise started this well was 2003, when the Expos came out of the blocks at 25-16.
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