Closing Time: Not really the coolest way to injure yourself

Alfonso Soriano has this habit of hopping when he catches fly-balls, as if left field were an apparatus that he had to dismount.

In the top of the first on Tuesday, he hopped, caught an inning-ending fly, then landed...and grimaced.

And then he limped.

And then he was helped off the field by Ryan Theriot.

The Cubs are calling the injury a "right calf strain." Its severity is not yet known, but he's already had an MRI. If Soriano misses an extended period of time, none of the replacement options should really be of interest to public league owners.

When Lou Piniella was asked during post-game interviews what he thinks of Soriano's girlish stylish hopping, he said, "What do I think about it?"

Then he laughed, withholding any honest comment.

* The Phillies treated Jose Valverde like a piƱata tonight. He entered in the ninth with a 3-0 lead. The inning went like this: HR, HBP, K, HR, K (batter reached via passed ball), 2B.

And with that, the Phillies had a 4-3 win. That's Valverde's second blown save, and his ERA is now 11.37. The Astros' bullpen is not exactly loaded, but Doug Brocail would likely be the next best option on the current roster.

* Erik Bedard was finally placed on the disabled list on Tuesday. He's dealing with a hip injury. Here's what Seattle manager John McLaren had to say:

"At this point, we thought it made the most sense to go ahead and place him on the DL. It should not change when he's available to make his next start, and gives us the ability to add another player in the meantime."

We didn't really learn anything specific about the injury today, and uncertainty never fills the fantasy community with optimism. So again, I'll recommend that you inquire about Bedard's availability. Whoever owns him probably believes that Bedard is dying of hip inflammation.

Here's a note from The News Tribune:

The team will schedule Bedard for a bullpen in the coming days. He said his injury feels better than it did in Baltimore when he had his April 6 start pushed back two days.

* As we discussed earlier, Joe Borowski was also placed on the DL on Tuesday. Rafael Betancourt will close for Cleveland, although he wasn't available Tuesday after pitching the previous two days. Jensen Lewis gave up two runs to Boston in the ninth and took the loss. You'll note the respectable start by Paul Byrd (6.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K).

* John Bowker failed to homer today for the first time in his (very brief) major league career. He did triple and single, though. The 24-year-old hit 22 home runs at Double-A last season. He's not generally considered one of the organization's high-end prospects, but the Giants are run-starved and he's hitting. Bowker is a person of interest in NL-only leagues.

* Casey Kotchman hit his fourth home run today. The 25-year-old first baseman is batting .352.

* Milton Bradley extended his hitting streak to 10 games today, going 2/5 while batting cleanup for the Rangers.

* All the underperforming Tigers (except Placido Polanco) homererd tonight. Crisis averted, Ordonez/Sheffield/Cabrera owners. Carlos Gomez stole his seventh base in the loss to Detroit, and Twins' right-hander Scott Baker had a nice line (7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 K) considering the opponent

* Micah Owings had another nice performance (6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), but it was just the Giants.

* Kenji Johjima went 3/4 with two runs scored and two RBIs, and finally cracked .200.

* Adam Jones hit his first home run of the season. He went 3/3 with a stolen base on Monday, and he's raised his average to .279.

* Akinori Iwamura sat against the left-handed Andy Pettitte, so Jason Bartlett occupied the leadoff spot for the Rays. Bartlett went 2/5, but he grounded into a double play to spoil an early bases-loaded opportunity. Evan Longoria had his first hitless day in the majors. Looking back, it was probably inevitable that this would happen. Longoria still drew a walk and scored a run, helping the believers among us.

* Scott Olsen forgot to walk anyone tonight. He threw 60 of his 82 pitches for strikes and allowed only five hits in seven shutout innings against the Braves.

* Randy Wolf no-hit the Rockies through six and two-thirds tonight, and he struck out nine. That's three useful fantasy efforts this year. Wolf's upcoming starts should be at Houston, then home against Arizona, then at Florida.

* Hideki Okajima poached a save on Tuesday, as Terry Francona reportedly didn't want to use Jonathan Papelbon again. There's nothing to see here. It's April, the Red Sox are in the middle of a 20-game stretch without an off day, and Papelbon had pitched the day before.

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