Atlanta: RHP Ben Sheets could be available as early as this weekend's series against the Nationals. Manager Fredi Gonzalez sees him as either as a long reliever or a spot starter. ... SS Paul Janish is hopeful that his contributions in the absence of SS Andrelton Simmons show the Braves he's a good fit for the team. "I've really enjoyed the stay thus far," he says, "and hopefully I'll be able to find a home here." Janish is arbitration-eligible. Chicago: LF Alfonso Soriano's 29-homer, 96-RBI season has sparked talk in Chicago that he would be an MVP candidate if he played for a winning team. "I don't want to talk about MVP," he said. "I just want to talk about my defense. ... That makes me more happy because I've improved my fielding and am proving to other people I can be a good outfielder." ... RH reliever Jaye Chapman, obtained in a trade with Atlanta, has pitched four scoreless innings in four games since his call-up Sept. 4 from Class AA (Kodak) Tennessee. Chapman's best pitch is what manager Dale Sveum calls a "power changeup." Cincinnati: CF Drew Stubbs, who has been out of the lineup six of the last eight games because of his slump, will likely start tonight when the Reds play for the first time at Marlins Park. "I'm going to need Stubbs because that's a huge ballpark," manager Dusty Baker said. ... LF Ryan Ludwick's double Wednesday was just his second extra-base hit in his last 23 games. He has 51 on the year -- 25 doubles, a triple and 25 home runs. Colorado: SS Josh Rutledge has one hit in his last 19 at-bats and is 5 for his last 40 with 11 strikeouts. Rutledge's average has dipped to .304. He hasn't driven in a run since Aug. 27, and during that stretch he is 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. ... RH reliever Josh Roenicke, whose heavy workload caused him to be moved from one of the multi-inning piggyback roles to a more limited one-inning specialist reliever, has given up six runs, four earned in his last 2 1/3 innings, raising his ERA from 2.66 to 3.01. He pitched the ninth Wednesday against the Giants and allowed two runs. Houston: RH reliever Mickey Storey escaped serious injury when he was hit in the face with a comebacker Wednesday. He merely had a bruised jaw plus a bruised hand -- he stuck the hand up instinctively trying to protect himself. "We're very lucky," manager Tony DeFrancesco said. ... IF/OF Scott Moore is technically available to play, though under one of the more unusual restrictions that you will see given his groin injury. "He's still able to run straight, but no turning for him," DeFrancesco said. Los Angeles: RH closer Kenley Jansen (irregular heartbeat) is on track to return Tuesday. "I feel ready," he said. "I could go out and pitch today if they needed me. But I can't. I've got to get off the blood thinner first. That's how good I feel." ... RH reliever Ronald Belisario went into Thursday with 12 straight scoreless appearances dating to Aug. 17. During that span, Belisario struck out 14 in 13 1/3 innings and held opponents to a .178 average. Miami: C Rob Brantly wants to be the starting catcher when spring training opens, and so far he has been making a solid case. He is batting .381 (16 for 42) over his last 13 games, including ,462 (6-for-13) on the team's recent road trip. ... IF Greg Dobbs' .378 road average since June 21 leads the NL and ranks second in the majors. Dobb has had a hit in 28 of 34 road games over that span. Milwaukee: LF Ryan Braun has been playing with a strained left wrist that is obviously compromising his swing at times. He collected only two hits in the three-game sweep of Atlanta, both singles. "It's affecting him," manager Ron Roenicke said. ... CF Carlos Gomez left the game Wednesday after bruising his left quadriceps in the second inning on a take-out slide at second base. He's day-to-day. New York: 2B Ronny Cedeno is day-to-day with a tight right hamstring, which began bothering him earlier this week. Cedeno initially downplayed the issue to manager Terry Collins but felt the muscle tighten up again Wednesday and left after five innings. ... RHP Matt Harvey racked up his second career double-digit strikeout game Wednesday in nine starts this season and raised his total to 63 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings. His rate of 10.8 punchouts per nine innings ranks 20th in baseball among pitchers with at least 50 innings and third among starting pitchers in that group. Philadelphia: 3B Kevin Frandsen, who has been out because of a stress fracture in his left shin, made his first start in nine days. IF Michael Martinez had started at third in every game of the Phillies' seven-game winning streak through Wednesday. ... LHP Cliff Lee has thrown six or more innings in each of his last 13 outings. The last time he finished with less than six innings was a 4 2/3-inning outing against the Marlins on June 29. Pittsburgh: RHP A.J. Burnett's chance to become the Pirates' first 20-game winner since John Smiley in 1991 appears to have ended. Burnett is 15-7 and will make just four more starts in the season's final 20 games unless the Pirates alter their rotation. He is winless in his last four starts. ... OF Josh Bell, the Pirates' second-round draft pick in 2011, will not take part in the Florida Instructional League program because he has been slow to recover from knee surgery performed in April. St. Louis: RF Carlos Beltran, hitting .199 from July 1 through Wednesday, was back in the lineup but was hitting sixth. ... C Yadier Molina, a .333 hitter with men in scoring position, laid down a sacrifice bunt with a runner at second and no outs in the ninth inning Wednesday, and the Cardinals didn't score. Manager Mike Matheny said Molina bunted on his own but added, "He's got that freedom. We were in a great spot right there. Smart baseball." San Diego: RHP Jason Marquis, who broke a bone at the base of his left thumb when he was struck by a line drive on Aug. 21, is still trying to pitch again this season. He'll have an X-ray today to see if he can go to a smaller cast. Marquis has continued to throw on schedule although he can't catch the ball. ... RH closer Huston Street threw a second simulated game Wednesday and fielded a couple of bunts to test the left calf strain that sent him to the disabled list on Aug. 11. The Padres are expected to make the decision today on whether to activate Street. San Francisco: C Hector Sanchez got shaken up during a play at the plate Wednesday but stayed in and played the entire game. He took a knee in the chest from C Wilin Rosario while scoring from first base. ... SS Brandon Crawford, who has hit in the No. 8 spot much of the season, has 31 extra-base hits. "It's a tough spot to hit in," Crawford said, "but I'm getting more used to it. You learn when to expand the zone and when to be more patient with the pitcher coming up." Washington: LHP John Lannan has won all three games he has started for the Nationals this season and has a 2.41 ERA. If he does not make the postseason roster, he certainly has showcased well for other teams searching for a solid, veteran fifth starter next season. ... LH reliever Sean Burnett took a big step back to regular playing time by pitching 2/3 of an inning in the ninth Wednesday. Burnett allowed two hits but showed no ill effects from the elbow problem that forced him to miss nine games.
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By The Sports Xchange September 13, 2012 8:00 PM