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With exciting Wild Card races still ongoing in both leagues and a slew of players pushing for individual awards across baseball, it's only fitting that the most intriguing storyline of Thursday played out on the playoff-absent Yankees.
The New York Daily News came out with a report on Thursday claiming Alex Rodriguez wouldn't be with the team for their final series against the Astros in Houston, instead taking the time to prepare for his arbitration hearing with the league set for Monday. The end of the season marks the beginning of Rodriguez' 211-game suspension, a suspension he plans to fight.
Shortly after the report came out, Yankees manager Joe Girardi dispelled the idea, saying A-Rod would in fact be with the team in Houston. And Rodriguez' spokesperson, Ron Berkowitz, said the plan was never anything else.
"Certain publications have continued to report inaccurate information about Alex," Berkowitz said. "Alex will be in Houston as expected."
A-Rod's fantasy relevancy is slim and will be completely gone come Monday, but owners who have plans of starting the third baseman over the weekend can -- until the next report, at least -- rest assured.
Other notes coming out of the Bronx on Thursday: Andy Pettitte will make his last career start on Saturday, and after requesting to play in the outfield years ago, Mariano Rivera may finally get into a game as a center fielder this weekend, Girardi said. No word on whether a good showing would prompt the Astros to recruit him to be their starting center fielder next year.
Click here for the latest MLB Player News on A-Rod, Mo and everyone else, and follow @Rotoworld_BB on Twitter for all the newest developments. Feel free to shoot any fantasy questions to @Nate_Grimm as we head down the home stretch as well.
One guy who will almost certainly see time in center field this weekend is Jason Heyward.
Heyward started in center on Thursday and went 5-for-5 for the Braves, collecting three doubles and a home run. The five-hit night came as a bit of a surprise, too, as Heyward had been in a 2-for-15 slump since coming off the disabled list last weekend.
"I feel like the first few games back, I was trying to be a little careful, but all the aggressiveness is coming back swing-wise and attacking the ball in the zone," Heyward told MLB.com after the game. "I'm just trying to get good pitches to hit and square them up."
It was reported before Thursday's game that Heyward would see game action in all four of the team's remaining games as they attempt to get him some much-needed at-bats. A healthy, productive and -- maybe most importantly at this time of year -- playing Heyward could do some more damage over the season's final three games. Owners who were waiting out the slump should ensure J-Hey is in back their lineup for the last series.
Can McCann Go?
The same may not be true of one of Heyward's teammates.
Brian McCann avoided suspension for his part in Wednesday's fracas with the Brewers, but he couldn't avoid a right adductor strain during Thursday's game. McCann left the game against the Phillies with the injury, but the Braves said it was more precautionary than anything. After the game, McCann said he thought he caught the injury before it got too far.
"I'm going to be day to day," McCann said. "I'm going to see how it is tomorrow. I felt like if I needed to sprint or run, I could hurt it real bad. I just caught it before [it got bad]."
Both McCann and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said there's a scenario in which he misses the final three games of the season with an eye on being ready for the start of the divisional round of the playoffs. The Braves still have incentive to win games, as they're currently tied for the best record in the National League, so McCann may still see some action before the season ends. Owners should be acutely aware of McCann's status these next three days.
National League Quick Hits: After being hit in the head by a pitch on Thursday, David Wright passed his concussion tests. He's considered day-to-day ... Andre Ethier (ankle) will not return during the regular season, according to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Ethier is aiming to make it back by the Dodgers' first round playoff series ... Carlos Gomez served a one-game suspension Thursday for his involvement in the dustup between the Braves and Brewers on Wednesday. Reed Johnson, another player in the middle of the action, is appealing his one-game ban ... Brandon Beachy underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Thursday. He's hoping to be ready by spring training ... Jon Niese will start Sunday's season finale for the Mets. He's a must-start option against a subpar Brewers offense.
American League Quick Hits: Chris Davis sat out Thursday with a sore right foot. He's expected to return to the lineup on Friday ... Jurickson Profar hit a walk-off home run against the Angels on Thursday. It was the biggest hit of his still-young career ... Mark Trumbo hit an RBI single in Thursday's game, giving him 100 RBI on the season. It's the first time the 27-year-old has reached the milestone ... Greg Holland set the Royals' single-season saves record, notching his 46th of the season Thursday. Plenty of other closers get headlines, but he's quietly established himself as one of the game's elite ... Alex Cobb shut out the Yankees over seven-plus innings on Thursday. A popular breakout pick to start the year, Cobb delivered to the tune of an 11-3 record and 2.76 ERA this season ... J.B. Shuck left Thursday's game with a sprained left ankle. With only three games to go, it could spell the end of his season ... Oswaldo Arcia (knee) took batting practice on Thursday. If he responds well, he'll likely see some game action this weekend ... Michael Bourn (wrist) missed a second straight game on Thursday. He's still considered day-to-day and, with the Indians clawing for a playoff spot, it would be surprising if he didn't get into a game at least as a pinch-runner this weekend.