American League team-by-team notebook -- Monday, September 17, 2012

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Baltimore: DH Jim Thome (herniated neck disk) was scheduled to hit Monday and Tuesday in simulated games before participating in an instructional league game Wednesday in Sarasota, Fla. There's still no timetable for his return. ... LH reliever Troy Patton (sprained left ankle) pitched to four batters in one inning in instructional league action Sunday. He's likely to pitch again Tuesday, and he could join the Orioles by Friday.

Boston: Manager Bobby Valentine defended his decision to send up Daniel Nava as a pinch hitter for rookie SS Jose Iglesias with a 2-2 count Sunday. "He's gotten one hit so far," Valentine said of Iglesias, who was 2-for-28 (.071) at the time. "It's not kindergarten here." ... RHP Nelson Figueroa, 38, will start for Pawtucket (R.I.) on Tuesday against Reno in the Class AAA championship game at Durham, N.C. RHP Trevor Bauer, 21, starts for the Diamondbacks' top affiliate.

Chicago: Dewayne Wise has gone a combined 4-for-8 with four RBI while starting in center field and hitting leadoff each of the past two days. Regular CF Alejandro De Aza, who is 2-for-21 (.095) in his past five games, has sat out both days. De Aza started in left field twice last week, his first appearances at that position this season. ... Hitting coach Jeff Manto makes no apologies for the offense's reliance on home runs. "That's just who we are," he told the Sun-Times. "This team is not designed to manufacture."

Cleveland: LHP David Huff will make his first major league start of the year when he pitches Tuesday against Minnesota. Huff spent most of the season at Class AAA Columbus (Ohio), and he has pitched six scoreless innings in two relief appearances since his Sept. 4 call-up. ... 1B Casey Kotchman's batting average is down this year, but his run production is up. Last year with Tampa Bay, Kotchman hit .306 with 10 homers and 48 RBI in 500 at-bats. This year, he is hitting .226 with 12 homers and 51 RBI in 424 at-bats.

Detroit: C Alex Avila sat out the makeup game in Chicago after getting hit in the jaw by 1B Prince Fielder while chasing a foul ball in the sixth inning Sunday at Cleveland. Avila immediately dropped to the ground and appeared woozy when he did get up. He was diagnosed with a sprained jaw but is hopeful of playing Tuesday. ... Avisail Garcia played left field for the first time as a pro. He had played exclusively in right since being called up Aug. 31. Prior to that, he played center and right in the Detroit farm system.

Kansas City: RHP Jake Odorizzi, called up Sunday from Class AAA Omaha (Papillion, Neb.), was sent to the bullpen for the first few days of his major league career. "We're looking to probably give him a start at the end of the week against Cleveland and go from there," manager Ned Yost said. ... C Salvador Perez has hit safely in 19 of his past 20 games. He is batting .333 (28-for-84) in that span.

Los Angeles: RHP Ervin Santana was pushed back in the rotation to Friday against the White Sox, giving him longer to let a bruise on his right forearm heal. He was struck by a line drive during his most recent start, Wednesday against the A's. ... SS Erick Aybar has had two multi-hit games in the past three while batting second with RF Torii Hunter moved to cleanup against a left-handed starting pitcher. Aybar is batting .406 (26-for-64) with hits in 15 of his past 16 games.

Minnesota: RH closer Matt Capps, out since July 16 because of inflammation in his rotator cuff, will join the Twins' instructional league team in Fort Myers, Fla., and he'll begin pitching to batters this week. "I have to show that we're going into the offseason healthy," Capps said. ... 1B Justin Morneau, a British Columbia native, believes the NHL season eventually will start. "When? I don't know," he said. "I'm a fan. It gives me something to do in the winter."

New York: Derek Jeter has played the past four games at designated hitter due to a bruised ankle. Manager Joe Girardi said Sunday he didn't believe Jeter would be ready to resume playing shortstop in Tuesday's series opener against Toronto. ... RH closer Rafael Soriano recorded his 40th save Sunday against Tampa Bay, becoming the fourth pitcher in Yankees history to reach that figure in one season. The others: Mariano Rivera (eight times), Dave Righetti (once) and John Wetteland (once).

Oakland: RHP A.J. Griffin, who will start Tuesday's series opener at Detroit, is 6-0 with a 1.94 ERA over his first 11 starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the second pitcher since ERA became an official stat in 1912 in the NL and 1913 in the AL to start his career undefeated in at least 11 starts with an ERA under 2.00. Angels RHP Jered Weaver went 9-0 with a 1.95 ERA in his first 12 starts in 2006. ... CF Coco Crisp is likely to return to the lineup Tuesday, according to manager Bob Melvin. Crisp did not play Sunday because of allergic conjunctivitis.

Seattle: 1B Justin Smoak homered Saturday and Sunday, continuing his success at Texas against his former team. He is a career .333 hitter (23-for-69) with seven homers and 19 RBI over 18 games in Arlington as a Mariner. ... The bullpen has converted 22 of its past 25 save chances (88 percent). Previously this year, Mariners relievers were 19-for-33 (57.6 percent).

Tampa Bay: OF Sam Fuld had an MRI on his right hamstring that revealed a moderate strain. Fuld, who left Sunday's game due to the injury, didn't know when he'd be able to play again. ... IF Sean Rodriguez received medical clearance to begin swinging a bat. Rodriguez broke his right hand three weeks ago, and he returned to action Saturday as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.

Texas: LH reliever Martin Perez will replace RHP Scott Feldman in the rotation, beginning with Friday's game at Seattle. Perez had a 2.60 ERA in three starts for Texas earlier this year. Feldman went 0-5 with a 6.99 ERA in his past seven starts. ... The Rangers expect to have the back-end duo of their bullpen available for the series at Anaheim that starts Tuesday. Both RH closer Joe Nathan and RH reliever Mike Adams got the weekend off due to various soreness and fatigue issues.

Toronto: IF Omar Vizquel, 45, has 2,872 hits heading into a series at Yankee Stadium, where he could equal or surpass the career hit total of Babe Ruth (2,873). "For him to tie, if possible, in New York will be very fitting," manager John Farrell said. ... C J.P. Arencibia is batting .048 (1-for-21) in his first six games since returning from a fractured right hand on Sept. 7. He has one walk and eight strikeouts in that span.

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