Con­tenders mon­i­tor­ing in­juries, re­turns

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - NATIONAL LEAGUE NOTES -

Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs

Right-han­der Brad Boxberger was re­moved from the closer role af­ter giv­ing up six runs in two in­nings in his first four Septem­ber ap­pear­ances. Man­ager Torey Lovullo said he will choose a closer based on matchups in­stead.

At­lanta Braves

Ron­ald Acuna Jr. didn’t be­come the lead­off hit­ter un­til July 20, but by Sept. 5 he al­ready had led off eight games with home runs, the fran­chise record for a sea­son. He was one short of Chris Young’s ma­jor league rookie record, set in 2007, when he had 84 games in the lead­off spot. Acuna’s eight home runs came in 44 lead­off starts.

Chicago Cubs

Closer Bran­don Mor­row threw from a mound Sept. 9 for the first time since go­ing on the dis­abled list July 16 be­cause of a strained right bi­ceps. How­ever, the team is un­sure whether he will be able to re­turn this sea­son. Pe­dro Strop has been fill­ing in as closer.

Cincin­nati Reds

Right-han­der Homer Bai­ley was dropped from the ro­ta­tion af­ter go­ing 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA in 20 starts. The Reds were 1-19 when he pitched. The Reds con­sid­ered mov­ing Bai­ley, mak­ing $21 mil­lion this sea­son in the fifth year of a six-year, $105 mil­lion con­tract, to the bullpen, but he does not feel ca­pa­ble of pitch­ing in re­lief. Tyler Mahle took Bai­ley’s spot in the ro­ta­tion.

Colorado Rock­ies

Kyle Free­land prob­a­bly won’t win the Cy Young award but de­serves con­sid­er­a­tion. He has a 2.21 ERA at Coors Field this year. His 2.91 ERA over­all is fourth when ad­justed for league and ball­park.

❚ Nolan Are­nado said his balky throw­ing shoul­der won’t be 100 per­cent un­til the off­sea­son, but it doesn’t af­fect his hitting.

Los An­ge­les Dodgers

Ross Stripling stands to ramp up his work­load this week as a re­liever. An All-Star starter this sea­son, he came off the dis­abled list last week and faced two Rock­ies hit­ters Sept. 7. He reg­is­tered his fastest clock­ing (95.4 mph) since April.

Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers

Left-han­der Gio Gon­za­lez, ac­quired from Washington on Aug. 31, won his Brew­ers de­but Sept. 8, hold­ing the Gi­ants to one un­earned run and three hits in 52⁄3 in­nings. Gon­za­les showed no rusti­ness de­spite hav­ing not pitched since Aug. 29, when he was ham­mered for six runs in five in­nings by the Phillies.

Mi­ami Mar­lins

Rookie cen­ter fielder Lewis Brin­son, who strug­gled badly in the first half of the sea­son and then spent nearly two months on the dis­abled list, had four mul­ti­hit games in his first week off the DL. “I want to just kind of be the player that I know that I’m sup­posed to be and that I can be,” Brin­son said.

New York Mets

David Wright wants to play in a ma­jor league game be­fore the end of the sea­son, but the Mets were un­will­ing to com­mit to let­ting him do it. As­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager John Ricco in­sisted that even though Wright was able to play in 12 mi­nor league games on a re­hab as­sign­ment, he was not yet phys­i­cally ready to play even one game for a team that is out of the race.

Philadel­phia Phillies

Third base­man Maikel Franco, among the Phillies’ lead­ers with 22 home runs, could re­turn be­fore the end of the sea­son af­ter an MRI showed no se­ri­ous dam­age in his right wrist. Franco jammed the wrist on a swing in late Au­gust, then went hit­less in 13 at-bats be­fore com­ing out of the lineup and see­ing a spe­cial­ist.

Pitts­burgh Pi­rates

Right fielder Gre­gory Polanco will miss the rest of the sea­son be­cause of a bone bruise in his left knee and will be re­placed pri­mar­ily by rookie Jor­dan Lu­plow. Polanco was in­jured Sept. 7 when he slid awk­wardly into sec­ond base while leg­ging out a dou­ble. Polanco is lead­ing the team in home runs (23), RBI (81) and ex­tra-base hits (61) while bat­ting .254 in 130 games.

St. Louis Car­di­nals

Af­ter be­ing out since May be­cause of a sore el­bow, righthander Adam Wain­wright was sched­uled to re­turn to the ro­ta­tion Sept. 10 for a start against the Pi­rates. But right-han­der Michael Wacha (strained mus­cle in left side) is out for the sea­son af­ter he was scratched from a re­hab start for Class AAA Mem­phis (Ten­nessee) be­cause of sore­ness.

San Diego Padres

Bar­ring trades, a com­pe­ti­tion looms among sev­eral out­field­ers next year. Strong fin­ishes by Hunter Ren­froe and Fran­mil Reyes have broad­ened a group that in­cludes Franchy Cordero, Manuel Mar­got, Travis Jankowski and per­haps Wil My­ers and Fran­cisco Me­jia.

San Fran­cisco Gi­ants

There’s logic to re­turn­ing Derek Hol­land to a ro­ta­tion pro­jected to in­clude Madi­son Bum­gar­ner, Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez, but Hol­land is due a raise on his $1.75 mil­lion salary. The staff’s in­nings leader, Hol­land is el­i­gi­ble for free agency.

Washington Na­tion­als

Closer Sean Doolit­tle, whose toe in­jury cost him two months on the dis­abled list, fi­nally re­joined the ac­tive ros­ter. Doolit­tle was 22-for-23 in saves with a 1.45 ERA when he was hurt. The Na­tion­als bullpen had a 4.72 ERA and five blown saves while Doolit­tle was on the DL.

Con­tribut­ing: Danny Kno­bler, John Per­rotto, Tom Kraso­vic, wire re­ports

DALE ZANINE/USA TODAY SPORTS

Rookie Ron­ald Acuna Jr. hit his eighth lead­off homer Sept. 2, set­ting a Braves fran­chise record for a year. He was one short of Chris Young’s ma­jor league rookie record.

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