The White Sox are ready to welcome their ace back.
Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports that left-hander Chris Sale has been cleared to return to the Pale Hose starting rotation for Thursday night’s series opener against the Yankees after missing the past five weeks with a flexor muscle strain in his pitching elbow.
Sale struck out 11 batters over four scoreless innings in his lone rehab start last Friday at Triple-A Charlotte. He threw only 68 pitches in that outing, so he might be on a limited count in his return to major league action Thursday on Chicago’s south side. But the dominant 25-year-old southpaw is still a must-start in all standard fantasy leagues versus the Yanks.
Sale was 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 29/7 K/BB ratio in 27 1/3 innings (four starts) before suffering the mid-April elbow injury. He owns an outstanding 2.93 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, and 9.5 K/9 in 528 innings since breaking into the major leagues as a 21-year-old reliever in 2010.
Springer Finds Groove, Then Injures Hip
Astros outfielder George Springer finished play Tuesday with a promising .284/.368/.478 batting line in 76 plate appearances since the beginning of May and he slugged his fourth major league home run Wednesday in the fourth inning of Houston’s eventual 2-1 loss to Anaheim.
But the 24-year-old future star may be looking at an extended absence after straining his right hip flexor Wednesday while trying to scamper back to the first base bag on a successful pickoff attempt by Angels starter Jered Weaver in the top of the ninth inning. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said after the game that the initial strength tests on Springer’s hip went “better than anticipated” and Springer told reporters that he’s played through similar injuries in the past, but a 15-day disabled list stint still seems like a distinct possibility.
Springer was promoted to the big leagues on April 16 after batting .353/.459/.647 with three home runs and four stolen bases over his first 13 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit .303/.411/.600 with 37 homers and 45 steals in 135 games last season between the Double-A Texas League and Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The kid is still owned in only 53 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues and is worth stashing even if he’s sidelined through early June.
Grilli Nearing Return, But Melancon Stays Hot
Pittsburgh’s ninth-inning situation is about to get really interesting. Jason Grilli tossed a successful 20-pitch simulated inning on Wednesday afternoon and is expected to return from the disabled list this coming Saturday. But will he get his job back right away?
Mark Melancon fanned two batters in a perfect ninth inning Wednesday night against the Orioles to earn his seventh save since Grilli went down on April 21 with an oblique strain. Melancon now owns a 2.14 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 21 total frames this year, and he boasts a 1.57 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 92 innings dating back to the beginning of the 2013 season. Those are ridiculously good numbers, and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle can’t really afford to play the loyalty card for Grilli with his team buried in fourth place in the National League Central standings at a record of 19-26. At the very least, Grilli will be eased back into Pittsburgh’s closer role. All things considered, Melancon deserves to keep it for good.
National League Quick Hits: Giants catcher Buster Posey remains day-to-day with nerve irritation in his back … Kyle Lohse tossed eight innings of one-run ball in the Brewers’ defeat of the Braves on Wednesday … Joey Votto was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a lingering left quadriceps strain … Giants right-hander Matt Cain had to be lifted after three innings Wednesday against the Rockies because of a hamstring strain … Dodgers infield prospect Alex Guerrero had part of his ear bit off Tuesday by Triple-A Albuquerque teammate Miguel Olivo and could miss five weeks following emergency plastic surgery … Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija remained winless despite tossing seven scoreless innings Wednesday versus the Yankees … Gio Gonzalez (shoulder) is expected to begin a throwing program on Friday … Jay Bruce was activated from the disabled list Wednesday after missing 15 days with a partially-torn meniscus in his left knee … Yasiel Puig clubbed his 10th home run of the season Wednesday in the Dodgers’ win over the Mets … Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen doubled twice in Wednesday’s defeat of the Orioles … Carlos Gonzalez made an early exit Wednesday with left index finger inflammation … Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud passed a concussion test Wednesday and could return to action this weekend … The Dodgers placed third baseman Juan Uribe on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a hamstring strain … Aroldis Chapman earned his third save with a perfect ninth inning Wednesday against the Nationals … Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was diagnosed with a right elbow contusion Wednesday after being struck by a Matt Adams line drive while sitting in the dugout … Ervin Santana was shelled for six runs in seven innings Wednesday against the Brewers, taking his second straight loss … Marcell Ozuna hit a grand slam in the Marlins’ rout of the Phillies on Wednesday.
American League Quick Hits: Rangers closer Joakim Soria picked up his first save since May 2 on Wednesday afternoon against the Mariners … Jered Weaver allowed just two hits and one run in a complete-game victory Wednesday night versus the Astros … Nelson Cruz doubled, homered, and finished with three RBI but the Orioles lost to the Pirates on Wednesday evening … Mike Trout missed his first game of the season Wednesday due to minor hamstring tightness … Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion slugged two home runs Wednesday night at Fenway Park … Victor Martinez hit his 12th home run of the season in the Tigers’ loss to the Indians on Wednesday … Mariners starter James Paxton (lat) is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday at Triple-A Tacoma … Brandon Moss cranked his 10th home run of the season Wednesday in the A’s win over the Rays … Prince Fielder remains day-to-day with minor back, neck, and arm injuries … CC Sabathia, who’s out until at least early July, will have a stem cell injection in his degenerative right knee … Red Sox starter Felix Doubront was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a shoulder injury … Mike Napoli was held out of the Red Sox lineup Wednesday with flu-like symptoms … White Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom needs surgery for his injured ankle and will miss at least three months … Clay Buchholz yielded four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Blue Jays and now has a 6.32 ERA in nine starts this year … Yankees closer David Robertson collected his ninth save of 2014 in Wednesday’s win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field … Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with two doubles in Boston’s loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday night … Albert Pujols tallied his 13th home run of the season as the Angels topped the Astros on Wednesday in Anaheim.