USA TODAY Sports Weekly

National League notes

- COMPILED BY RICK VACEK

NL EAST Atlanta Braves

RHP Ian Anderson still counts as a rookie, but the Braves know what he can do under pressure. So it was no surprise that after nearly two months on the injured list because of shoulder pain, Anderson returned Aug. 29 and threw 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants.

“If I can replicate (2020), that would be great,” Anderson said.

The Braves were a game below .500 and four games out of first place through July 11, when Anderson made his last start before going on the IL. They were on a 25-14 run since then when he returned to the rotation and had built a 4 1⁄2-game lead in the NL East Division.

❚ For the first time since 2006, the Braves should end up with four players hitting at least 25 home runs. 1B Freddie Freeman, 3B Austin Riley and SS Dansby Swanson are already there, and 2B Ozzie Albies had 23 through Aug. 29.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins finally got to see the major league debut of touted prospect RHP Edward Cabrera but might not see a September return for RHP Pablo Lopez.

Lopez, one of their top starters when he went on the injured list in mid-July because of a strained rotator cuff, seemed to be on his way back when he threw three hitless innings in a rehab start for Class AAA Jacksonvil­le (Florida). But more questions about his shoulder forced a pause in his rehab.

Cabrera, ranked by MLB.com as the No. 30 prospect in the game, debuted with 6 1⁄3 innings in an Aug. 25 win over the Washington Nationals. He carried a shutout through six innings before allowing three runs in the seventh.

❚ For the first time in franchise history, the Marlins had more players in the MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects list (seven) than any other organizati­on.

New York Mets

2B Javier Baez celebrated a big home run in an Aug. 29 win over the Washington Nationals by flashing two thumbs down as he crossed the plate. Other Mets also used the “thumbs-down” celebratio­n, which Baez later said was a response to fans who booed a team that had lost 19 of 27 and fallen from first to a distant third in the NL East.

“When I strike out and I get booed, it doesn’t really get to me,” said Baez, who was hitting .210 as a Met with 22 strikeouts in 62 at-bats. “But I want to let them know that when we do (have) success, we’re going to do the same thing, to let them know how it feels.”

Team President Sandy Alderson said Baez’s gesture was “totally unacceptab­le.”

❚ RHP Noah Syndergaar­d was supposed to celebrate his 29th birthday by making a rehab start, another step in his return from Tommy John elbow surgery. Instead, he was scratched because of what multiple reports said was a positive test for the coronaviru­s.

Philadelph­ia Phillies

The Phillies got a double dose of bad news when 1B Rhys Hoskins announced he would have season-ending surgery to repair a tear in his abdomen and RHP Zach Eflin was scratched from his scheduled return start in the big leagues because of more problems with his right knee.

Eflin had no trouble in a minor league rehab start. The Phillies activated him from the injured list and he went through his pregame preparatio­ns, but the tendinitis in his knee flared.

A day later, Eflin was one of three Phillies to test positive for the coronaviru­s, and manager Joe Girardi said Eflin might not pitch again this season.

❚ J.T. Realmuto is expected to play some first base in September, in part because Hoskins’ injury opened the position but also because it would be less of a strain on Realmuto’s sore right shoulder.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals already have seen encouragin­g signs from RHP Josiah Gray, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the deadline deal for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Now they’ll spend the rest of this season looking at C Keibert Ruiz, the other big prospect in the trade.

After Ruiz hit .308 with five home runs in 20 games at Class AAA Rochester (New York), the Nationals announced he would join the big-league team Aug. 30 and catch Gray.

Gray already had made five starts since the trade and had a 2.89 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 28 innings. “They invested a lot in me and Keibert,” Gray said. “So it’s going to be really fun.”

❚ The Nationals became one of the first major league teams to mandate that all of their nonplaying employees had to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

NL CENTRAL Chicago Cubs

IF David Bote sustained one of the most freakish injuries in recent memory and could miss the remainder of the season.

Bote sprained his right ankle Aug. 27 and was placed on the injured list after stepping on a baseball during batting practice. The ball was obscured by some white lettering in foul territory.

Manager David Ross said he once did the same thing when he was a player.

“It messed up my ankle pretty good, and he was the same,” Ross said.

❚ 3B Patrick Wisdom became the first rookie in Cubs history to have consecutiv­e multiple-homer games when he went deep twice against the White Sox on Aug. 27-28 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Cincinnati Reds

It proved to be a fortuitous move when the Reds claimed IF Asdrubal Cabrera on waivers from the Arizona Diamondbac­ks. The 35-year-old made his Reds debut Aug. 28 when he entered the game in the second inning in place of injured 3B Mike Moustakas.

“We’re just adding a player that has a lot of experience in big games and good teams,” manager David Bell said.

Moustakas, sidelined by injuries for a quarter of the season, left the game because of right hip tightness and didn’t play Aug. 29.

❚ RHP Tejay Antone likely will be out until the start of the 2023 season after having Tommy John elbow surgery. Antone missed 53 games because of forearm tightness, then was injured in his first game off the injured list Aug. 24.

 ?? DUSTIN SATLOFF/GETTY IMAGES ?? Mets President Sandy Alderson called Javier Baez’s thumbs-down gesture directed at fans after hitting a two-run homer Aug. 29 “totally unacceptab­le.”
DUSTIN SATLOFF/GETTY IMAGES Mets President Sandy Alderson called Javier Baez’s thumbs-down gesture directed at fans after hitting a two-run homer Aug. 29 “totally unacceptab­le.”

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