It's two Closing Times for the price of one today; the wall-to-wall MLB schedule makes it a no-brainer. We'll be back around midnight pacific time with the rest of the Thursday story.
You have to figure that Jimmy Rollins(notes) will eventually hit his way out of this season-long 2009 funk, but it's not going to happen over the next two games. Charlie Manuel rested his star shortstop for Thursday's game in Tampa (that's cruel, denying him access to Master of the Meatball Andy Sonnanstine(notes)), and he'll do the same Friday. The goal, says Manuel, is to let Rollins "sit and relax."
Rollins is hitless in his last 19 at-bats, dropping his average down to .211, and he's been struggling on the bases as well – after swiping 88-of-97 bags over the prior two seasons, he's just 10-for-15 this year. It's easy to blame his puny average on an unlucky .218 BABIP, but there's more to the story – with a career-worst 16.5 line-drive rate, Rollins is clearly getting himself out a lot. He's also walking less and strikeout out more than he did in 2008. I'm still willing to buy on Rollins if there's a discount present – the team environment and the park can't be ignored – but there's no way I'd pay the pre-season sticker price.
• Homer Bailey's(notes) recent run in the minors (4-0, 0.47 ERA over five starts) has earned him another test with the Reds; he'll go against Cleveland on Saturday, stepping into Edinson Volquez's(notes) spot. There's still a lot of buzz tied to Bailey – his minor-league stats deserve it – and I think we're still one more failed chance away from a post-hype discount truly applying. Perhaps you can start Bailey on spec and not worry about it, but I'm still in a "prove it up here" mode with the kid.
• Scott Baker(notes) had three turns without a homer allowed but his gopher problems came back at Milwaukee – the Brewers went deep twice in the sixth, ruining Baker's shutout and sending him to the showers. He still got a win, however, and overall it was a useful line (6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K); I'll endorse him for next week's turn at Kansas City. Denard Span(notes) stepped off the DL and back into the leadoff spot nicely, posting a 2-3-1-0 line with three walks.
• Ian Snell(notes) had three quality starts before Tuesday's meltdown against the Indians, but according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, it was Snell who requested Thursday's demotion to Triple-A. "I told them I want to go down.," Snell said. "I just felt like it was the best decision for me and for this team. I went with my gut, and I feel like I need to work on some stuff and I need to do it there." Tom Gorzelanny(notes) is expected to step into Snell's vacated spot.
• We know Mike Jacobs(notes) can't hit lefties but lately he's not making contact against anyone; another collar at Houston Thursday dropped his average to .221, and he's got a measly one RBI this month. First base isn't that hard of a spot to fill, Kansas City.
Speed Round: Brad Lidge(notes) (knee) came off the DL prior to Thursday's game and is ready if needed. … Geovany Soto(notes) tested positive for marijuana while playing in the WBC this spring; it won't affect his MLB status, but he's banned from international play for two years. "I fully understand the ramifications of my actions," Soto said. "I have and will accept any and all consequences." … I watched every Ricky Nolasco(notes) pitch over his last two starts and he absolutely passed the eye test. As you know, he's been tremendous since the Triple-A tune up (1.80 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 25 strikeouts in 25 innings). I believe. … It's a shame Jake Fox(notes) doesn't play for an American League club, because he's hitting whenever the Cubs give him a chance (12-for-34, three-run homer at Detroit Thursday). … Erik Bedard(notes) (shoulder) is aiming at a July 4 return. … A sore wrist kept Robinson Cano(notes) out of the lineup Thursday in Atlanta. …The Mariners put Yuniesky Betancourt(notes) (hamstring) on the DL Thursday, but Jose Lopez(notes) (personal) is back with the club and Kenji Johjima(notes) should be available on the weekend. … After going 40 games without a homer, Magglio Ordonez(notes) finally clubbed No. 3 Thursday. Release the balloons. … Evan Longoria(notes) (hamstring) remains day-to-day and didn't start Thursday. … Because Joe Torre was waiting patiently for a save situation that never showed, the Dodgers lost a 13-inning game at the White Sox with Jeff Weaver(notes) (2.2 IP, 5 H) absorbing the final blow. Highly-regarded Chicago prospect Aaron Poreda(notes) got the win; he's yet to allow a run over 4.2 MLB innings (one walk, six strikeouts).
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