National League team-by-team notebook -- Monday, July 23, 2012

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Arizona: C Miguel Montero will set a franchise record for games caught by a catcher this week, barring unforeseen circumstances. Montero caught his 536th game Monday, one short of C Chris Snyder's club record. ... The D-backs entered the final seven games of a 10-game homestand ranked No. 1 in the NL in home games in doubles (104) and slugging percentage (.489), second in runs (237) and batting average (.288) and tied for second in on-base percentage (.350).

Atlanta: OF Jose Constanza was recalled from Class AAA Gwinnett (Lawrenceville, Ga.), replacing OF Matt Diaz, on the disabled list with a recurrence of his right thumb soreness. To make room on the roster, RH reliever Anthony Varvaro was optioned to Gwinnett. ... IF Jack Wilson (dislocated right little finger) began a rehab assignment with Gwinnett. Because Wilson is considered a better defensive player than the shortstop at Gwinnett, Tyler Pastornicky, the Braves want Pastornicky to get some games at second base and left field.

Chicago: LHP Paul Maholm's start tonight will be his first in Pittsburgh since he left the team after last season. Maholm spent the first seven years of his career with the Pirates until they declined to exercise the team option in his contract for this year. ... 3B Josh Vitters was hitting .303 with 15 homers and 59 RBI through Sunday at Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa, but the Cubs have resisted the temptation to call him up. Possible concerns: He had only 24 walks in 366 at-bats and had committed 18 errors.

Cincinnati: RF Jay Bruce was out of the lineup, partly because he was 2-for-29 with 15 strikeouts against Houston LHP Wandy Rodriguez and partly because the Reds are in a stretch of 13 games in the a row, followed by an off day, followed by 17 in a row. "It's a perfect time," manager Dusty Baker said. ... Louise Nippert, an owner of the Reds since 1966, died at the age of 100. Louis and Louise Nippert bought the Reds in December 1966 along with 12 other Cincinnati investors. The Nipperts assumed majority ownership in 1973 and held it until 1981.

Colorado: The Rockies led the majors with 36 triples through Sunday after hitting 40 all last season. Thanks to the spacious outfield at Coors Field, they have led the major leagues in triples seven times. CF Dexter Fowler was leading the majors with nine triples. ... The Rockies are 3-13 in Sunday games this season and 9-32 going back to the start of the 2011 season, during which they set a modern-day major league record with 17 consecutive Sunday losses.

Houston: RHP Jordan Lyles on Sunday was again victimized by one bad inning, this time a seven-run sixth that was complicated by an error. "I've got to make better pitches when my back's against the wall," he said. ... The 33 runs the Astros allowed over the weekend at Arizona were the most they've given up in a three-game series this year. That's saying something, given that only one NL team (Colorado) had allowed more than the Astros' 477 runs.

Los Angeles: RHP Chad Billingsley (elbow) was activated from the disabled list on Monday before his start, and RH reliever Josh Wall was sent down to Class AAA Albuquerque. Because of the timing of the All-Star break, Billingsley missed just one start. ... OF Bobby Abreu batted leadoff, the fifth time this season he has been atop the Dodgers' lineup, all in the last nine games. Abreu is one of four players to bat leadoff since SS Dee Gordon was placed on the DL on July 5.

Miami: RH reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo was moved from the restricted list, where he's been since his identity fraud was discovered last August, to the disabled list. He has a sprained ligament in his elbow and is not expected to return this season. ... Miami pinch-hitters went into Monday batting .288, third in the NL behind the Cubs (.298) and Nationals (.290). Greg Dobbs led the Marlins with seven pinch hits, in 27 at-bats.

Milwaukee: RHP Shaun Marcum (elbow) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today. On the disabled list since June 15, he tried to come back in late June but had to be shut down because his elbow was too sore. ... RHP Mike Fiers is 0-2 in his last three starts despite allowing just three earned runs in 20 1/3 innings (1.33 ERA). He is 3-4 in nine games (eight starts) despite posting a 1.96 ERA.

New York: RHP Matt Harvey joined the Mets and will be activated in time to start Thursday's game. Harvey, one of the majors' top pitching prospects, was 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA at Class AAA Buffalo, where he struck out 112 batters and walked 48 in 110 innings. ... RH closer Frank Francisco (strained muscle in left side) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at short-season Brooklyn (N.Y.) today. He threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Sunday.

Philadelphia: 3B Placido Polanco was out of the lineup for the second time in three games because of a sore back, manager Charlie Manuel said. Polanco was scheduled to be examined by team doctor Michael Ciccotti. ... 2B Chase Utley and 1B Ryan Howard both were in the lineup for the fourth straight day for the first time since coming back from their injuries. Manuel has been giving them extra days off to make sure they weren't overextended.

Pittsburgh: The Pirates went into Monday 19-4 when leadoff man Alex Presley scored a run, but he had scored only 32 runs in 239 at-bats. His on-base percentage was just .274. ... The Pirates are the sixth major league franchise to record 9,700 wins, joining the Giants, Cubs, Braves, Dodgers and Yankees. The Pirates reached the milestone Sunday.

St. Louis: 3B David Freese, one of the hottest hitters in the Cardinals' lineup (10 for his last 18 in his previous five games), was out of that lineup against Dodgers RHP Chad Billingsley. Freese went into the game 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against Billingsley. ... RF Carlos Beltran's home run Sunday was the 200th of his NL career to go with the 123 he had for Kansas City in the AL. It was, however, his first homer since June 24.

San Diego: GM Josh Byrnes insists the Padres will not be active at the trade deadline. "I'm not tearing this team apart," he said. "We're not going to rip up what we've worked hard to start building. If a deal makes sense, we're ready to help ourselves. But I like our direction, what we're doing." ...
SS Everth Cabrera went into Monday 18-for-18 in steal attempts this season, the longest run of successful attempts to start a season in Padres history.

San Francisco: 1B Brandon Belt, mired in a 9-for-66 (.136) slump, was benched and Pablo Sandoval moved from third base to first. Joaquin Arias replaced Sandoval at third. "I've got to get my mind right," Belt said. ... LHP Barry Zito has four quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs) in his last five games. He pitched twice on the just completed road trip, throwing seven scoreless innings at Atlanta and seven innings of three-run ball at Philadelphia on Sunday.

Washington: SS Ian Desmond (torn muscle in left side) was placed on the disabled list, and OF Corey Brown was called up from Class AAA Syracuse. Desmond will be out 2-6 weeks. 2B Danny Espinosa will take over at shortstop and Steve Lombardozzi, who has been playing left field, will be the second baseman. ... OF Bryce Harper went into Monday hitting only .190 with just one extra-base hit since the All-Star break, but manager Davey Johnson didn't think he was tired. "I'm not sold," Johnson told The Washington Post. "I remember when I was 19 and I don't ever remember me getting tired. ... He don't look tired to me."

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