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National League team-by-team notebook -- September 17, 2012

The SportsXchange

Arizona: CF Chris Young (right quadriceps) improved over the weekend and could be cleared to start as early as tonight, manager Kirk Gibson said. Young ran the bases in spikes on Saturday, the first time he had done that since he was injured Sept. 3 but got a little fatigued in the process, Gibson said. ... Gibson on Sunday became the fourth manager in franchise history to reach 200 victories. Gibson (200-191, .512) joined Bob Melvin (337-340, .498), Bob Brenly (303-262, .536) and Buck Showalter (250-236, .514).

Atlanta: 3B Chipper Jones said he has been struggling on defense lately. "Sometimes you're a little bit off with your footwork. Playing third base is such an inexact science because you're basically a hockey goalie down there sometimes," he said. ... The Braves have won each of RHP Kris Medlen's last 20 starts, the longest streak in the majors since the Yankees won 20 straight starts by Roger Clemens in 2001.

Chicago: SS Starlin Castro is the first Cubs shortstop since Ernie Banks in 1961 to reach 75 RBI. Banks had 80 RBI in 1961, a year in which he played 104 of 138 games at short. ... C Welington Castillo started his third straight game. "His whole attitude has changed into a mindset of an everyday catcher," manager Dale Sveum said. Castillo and Steve Clevenger have been sharing duties behind the plate.

Cincinnati: Manager Dusty Baker passed Hall of Famer Dick Williams on Sunday with win No. 1,572. Baker is 19th on the list, 27 behind his former manager, Tommy Lasorda. ... RH reliever Jonathan Broxton earned his second save as a Red on Sunday. Broxton has not allowed a run in his last 10 appearances. He has given up five hits, walked one and struck out 10 in the streak.

Colorado: SS Troy Tulowitzki (left groin) told the Denver Post that he intends to return in the final week of the season. The newspaper also reported that he might have to consider switching to third base. ... The seven runs that RH reliever Adam Ottavino allowed in two-thirds of an inning Sunday matched the total he had given up in his previous 33 2/3 innings over 13 games. His ERA soared from 3.56 to 4.38, the highest it has been since Aug. 6, when it was 4.53.

Houston: 3B Matt Dominguez hasn't demonstrated any of the concerns about his offense that were raised when he was acquired in the Carlos Lee trade. Dominguez is hitting .292 with a .523 slugging percentage and four home runs in 20 games. ... LF J.D. Martinez has been hitting much better since returning from a demotion to Class AAA. Since coming back as a September call-up, Martinez is 9-for-23 (.391) with a .440 on-base percentage.

Los Angeles: LHP Clayton Kershaw might not be able to pitch again until next May if he needs hip surgery. He will get a second opinion today from Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York. ... LH reliever Scott Elbert is scheduled to undergo elbow surgery Wednesday. The procedure, which will be performed by team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, is not expected to be major, and Elbert is expected to be ready in time for the start of spring training in 2013.

Miami: Manager Ozzie Guillen said he expects to return next year despite speculation that his job could be on the line. "Sometimes you say, 'Wow, I wish I got fired because I can go home and relax and not deal with this anymore,' " he said. "But no. That's not Ozzie Guillen. I like to fight." ... The Marlins used nine pitchers Sunday. That's a team record for pitchers in one game.

Milwaukee: RHP Yovani Gallardo was moved ahead of RHP Marco Estrada in the starting rotation to pitch tonight. That move would put Gallardo in place to pitch the final game of the season on Oct. 3 vs. San Diego, in the event the Brewers need to win that game to reach the playoffs. ... The Brewers are two games over .500 for only the second time this season. The other time was when they were 4-2 on April 11.

New York: C Kelly Shoppach was originally supposed to start Monday's game but told manager Terry Collins that RHP R.A. Dickey, who is chasing a 20-win season and the NL Cy Young award, might be uncomfortable pitching to someone who has never caught a knuckleball in a competitive environment. As a result, the Mets started C Mike Nickeas behind the plate instead. ... RHP Jeremy Hefner will start Wednesday's game, manager Terry Collins announced. Much of the rest of the team's rotation is up in the air.

Philadelphia: 2B Chase Utley once again took groundballs at third base during batting practice and said he's not close to being ready to try switching positions. "It's still a work in progress," he said. ... RHP Roy Halladay hadn't given up an earned run in 20 innings at Minute Maid Park before allowing three runs in six innings Sunday. The two-time Cy Young Award winner remained two shy of career win No. 200.

Pittsburgh: CF Andrew McCutchen on Sunday became the first Pirates player to score 100 runs in a season since Nate McLouth had 113 in 2008. McCutcheon is trying to become the first Pittsburgh player to lead the league in that category since Barry Bonds had 109 in 1992. ... 1B Jeff Clement is being scouted by Japanese teams and said he would consider playing in the Far East next season if he is dropped from the Pirates' 40 man-roster at the end of the season.

St. Louis: RHP Chris Carpenter will make his season debut on Friday, according to the team's website. RHP Joe Kelly will be moved to the bullpen to make room for Carpenter in the rotation. ... RHP Mitchell Boggs (back spasms) isn't expected to be out long even though he has had the ailment before. "I've dealt with it a little bit in the past, and as far as that scale, it's the least," he said.

San Diego: 1B Yonder Alonso is having one of the best rookie seasons in the history of the Padres. Alonso's 135 hits ranks seven on the all-time list of Padres rookie hits leaders. Sixth on the list is Roberto Alomar (145 in 1988). ... 2B Logan Forsythe has hit in 16 of his last 18 games after getting a career-high four hits Sunday. Forsythe has raised his average from .262 to .297 during the run.

San Francisco: LF Xavier Nady, who hadn't played since Sept. 5 because of a strained left hamstring, was back in the lineup. The Giants' other regular left fielder, Gregor Blanco, has a sore shoulder. ... RHP Ryan Vogelsong has a 10.31 ERA in his last seven starts, raising his season ERA from a league-leading 2.27 to 3.65. If the Giants make the playoffs, the choice for the No. 4 starter is expected to be Vogelsong or LHP Barry Zito, who has pitched well recently.

Washington: 2B Danny Espinosa went for an MRI because of pain in his left shoulder. Results are not expected until today. "I am a little worried about Espinosa. I pinch hit for him because he didn't have any strength," manager Davey Johnson said Sunday. ... CF Bryce Harper is five home runs away from Tony Conigliaro's teenage record of 24 in a season. Harper has 16 games left.

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