USA TODAY Sports Weekly
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL NOTES
Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore setup man Yennier Cano, who didn’t allow a hit until his 12th inning of the season, faced the minimum in the eighth and ninth May 7 at Atlanta to keep his ERA at 0.00. The hard-throwing right-hander has struck out 19 in 17 innings over 12 games. Rryan Mountcastle went 0for-5 in the game, ending a 15-game onbase streak. Catcher Adley Rutschman walked as a pinch hitter in the sixth and has reached base 63 times this year, second most in the majors to Ronald Acuña (69).
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox were 316 last season against the Toronto Blue Jays. This year? They’re 4-0 after sweeping them last week. “They kicked our butts last year,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters. “The reason we didn’t make it to the playoffs last year was because of them.” ... The Ted Williams estate is auctioning off his Hall of Fame ring from 1966, the Babe Ruth Sultan of Swat Award crown awarded to him in 1957, and a 35-ounce bat he used during his 1946 MVP season. They will be on the block in Heritage’s May 11-13 Sports Catalog Auction.
Chicago White Sox: White Sox reliever Keynan Middleton struck out Carlos Correa on a 96.2 mph fastball last week, closing out a 6-4 victory against the Minnesota Twins. Middleton talked about how much he relished that last swing by Correa, who played for the Houston Astros at the time of their cheating scandal. “I knew I was going to face Correa, and I don’t like him. So it was kind of cool,” he said. “I like that. I enjoyed that a lot. … I mean, he’s a cheater.” Houston was disciplined by MLB after it found the team used electronics to steal signs during its run to the 2017 World Series title and again in the 2018 season. “I’ve heard worse,” Correa told reporters about the comment. “I’m just glad he’s doing good and he’s playing good and he can take care of his family. Obviously, he’s tough. He’s getting better and that’s why he’s pitching high-leverage situations for them.” ... The White Sox don’t plan to keep starter Lucas Giolito after this season and will make him available at the trade deadline if they are out of the race. The White Sox plan to pick up the $15 million option on closer Liam Hendriks in 2024 considering the buyout is also $15 million . ... DH Eloy Jiménez was hospitalized over the weekend with abdominal pain and was diagnosed with acute appendicitis. He had an appendectomy and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Cleveland Guardians: Daniel Espino, Cleveland’s top pitching prospect, is expected to be sidelined for at least one year after having right shoulder surgery to repair an anterior capsule in the 22year-old’s shoulder. The Guardians have high hopes for the hard-throwing Espino, who was recently shut down after experiencing soreness and inflammation as he tried to ramp up his activity. He’s been dealing with arm issues for nearly a year . ... Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase was the AL’s best reliever, saving a major league-best 42 games in 46 chances in 2022, but this season has already blown three saves in 15 opportunities. The fastball that averaged 100.2 mph in 2021 has dipped to 97.7.
Detroit Tigers: Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez is going old-school this year, ditching PitchCom and actually relying on his catcher’s fingers calling pitches. “That’s how we’ve been playing all our career,” Rodriguez told the Detroit Free Press, “and we like it like that. We’ll keep doing it.” Well, something sure is working. Rodriguez is 3-2 with a 1.81 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP, including a 0.52 ERA in his last five starts.
Houston Astros: The Astros have yet
to release a timetable on All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve’s return from his broken right thumb, but privately they believe he’ll join the Astros during their May 29-June 4 homestand. It’s been a rough stint with Altuve being robbed on opening day when four people broke into his home and stole $1 million worth of watches and jewelry. It’s amazing that the Astros have managed to produce a winning record considering they have played all season without Altuve and outfielder Michael Brantley and are missing starting pitchers Lance McCullers, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy. Garcia now needs Tommy John surgery and likely is out until 2025 . ... The Astros are becoming increasingly concerned with first baseman Jose Abreu, who signed a three-year, $58.5 million contract this winter. Abreu, 36, is hitting .224 with a paltry .534 OPS and still has not homered in 143 plate appearances.
Kansas City Royals: The Royals placed pitcher Ryan Yarbrough on the 15-day injured list for head fractures, the team announced via Twitter on May 8. Yarbrough was hit in the face by a line drive during the sixth inning of the previous day’s game against the Athletics.
With a 3-2 count, he tossed a pitch to Ryan Noda, who smacked the ball straight into Yarbrough’s head with a 106 mph hit. Yarbrough flinched as the ball approached him, and then when it made contact he fell to his knees on the mound. Catcher Salvador Perez grabbed the ball as it rolled back toward home plate and tossed it to Nick Pratto at first base to get Noda out. Yarbrough was tended to by trainers and walked off the field with their help. “It was scary. The dugout went silent, everybody,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said in his postgame news conference, noting Yarbrough got hit above the temple. “Your heart drops there, you get a pit in your stomach. I can’t think of a worse thing to see on the field. Luckily, when we got out there, he was talking and aware of what was going on and what had happened.” ... The Royals believe that prized shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.’s slow start is due to his twoweek stint at the World Baseball Classic in which he got only three at-bats.
Los Angeles Angel: Enough with the wacky numbers folks are predicting for Shohei Ohtani’s free agent contract. Ohtani and his representatives are expecting a $500 million-$550 million con
tract and certainly don’t believe anyone is going to offer $600 million.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins’ plan to keep Byron Buxton healthy by limiting him to the DH role is certainly working. He played in 30 of their first 33 games, hitting eight homers with 19 RBI and a .901 OPS. The Gold Glove center fielder last played in 117 games in 2017. The Twins eventually plan to shift Buxton back to the outfield but are being cautious . ... Twins starter Sonny Gray could be in for a nice payday this winter as a free agent. He is 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA and still had not given up a home run this season . ... Infielder Kyle Farmer (facial cut) is expected to rejoin the team during its upcoming homestand. He sustained damage to his lower lip and teeth when he was struck by a Lucas Giolito pitch on April 12 and had surgery.
New York Yankees: While the Yankees continue to be ridiculed for not acquiring ace pitcher Luis Castillo at last year’s trade deadline, instead settling for injured Frankie Montas, the Reds were insisting on including prized shortstop Anthony Volpe in any trade.
Oakland Athletics: Longtime Athletics broadcaster Glen Kuiper has been suspended after he said a racial slur in an apparent slip of the tongue during a May 5 NBC Sports California broadcast. Kuiper will remain off the air until a review of what happened is completed, NBC Sports California said in a statement. “I could not be more sorry and horrified by what I said,” Kuiper said in a statement released by NBC Sports California. “I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies.” He made an in-game apology that appeared to be in reference to remarks he made pregame while discussing what he and broadcast partner Dallas Braden did earlier in the day. Kuiper mentioned that they visited the Negro Leagues Museum, which is in Kansas City, but he appeared to say the racial slur instead. “The language used by Glen Kuiper during today’s pregame broadcast is unacceptable,” the A’s said in a statement . ... The A’s, with two crowds under 3,000 this past week, are now offering summer packages for just $99 to catch 37 games in Oakland . ... Congratulations to Kyle Muller, who became the first Athletics starter to win a game on May 5. It’s the latest in a season that any team has gone without a starting pitcher winning a game. The A’s entered May 7 with an 8-27 record and were on pace to finish 37-125, which would shatter the record for futility set by the 1962 New York Mets, who went 42-120 as an expansion team. The A’s already set the MLB record for most losses in April with 23.
Seattle Mariners: Both the Mariners
and Astros bullpens cleared in the fourth inning May 7 when Seattle’s José Caballero and Astros catcher Martín Maldonado squared off at home plate. The two appeared to be at odds after Caballero called time on the previous pitch. After a swing and miss, Caballero faced off with Maldonado and the two exchanged words as their teammates streamed onto the field.
Tampa Bay Rays: Pitcher Zach Eflin had an unusual encounter with the umpiring crew during a May 4 game against the Pirates when umpires went to check his hand and glove for a foreign substance after the first inning. Eflin eventually could be seen taking off his rubber wedding ring. When the right-hander took the mound in the second inning, the wedding ring was no longer on his left hand. The 29-year-old, who got married in 2020 and began wearing the ring during games at the start of the 2021 season, said he’s never had a problem with umpires before regarding his ring. “They seemed a little on edge,” Eflin said of the umpires. “I said, ‘If you’re going to eject me out of the game, then I’ll take it off,’ and that’s what they ended up coming out and telling me on the mound, was
that they’re going to toss me out of the game if I didn’t take off my rubber ring. So I took it off.” After he was told to take the ring off, Elfin put it on his necklace for the remainder of the game . ... You know things are going fabulous for the Rays when they desperately need a reliever, call the Cincinnati Reds about 35-yearold Chase Anderson, trade for him, put him on a flight that morning, put him in the game that night, and watch him pitch three scoreless innings for his first career save. The cost of business? One dollar. A cash deal. And you wonder why they had the second-best start, 28-7, by any team since 1901 . ... This could be the first time in Rays history that they have a player finish in the top 5 of the MVP race with shortstop Wander Franco and left fielder Randy Arozarena off to hot starts. The highest MVP finish by a Rays player was Evan Longoria who finished sixth in 2010 and 2013.
Texas Rangers: The Rangers are scrambling to find a closer after blowing four late-inning leads this past week, converting just six of 11 save opportunities. The best closer currently available is the Royals’ Aroldis Chapman. If the Rangers wait, they could pick up veterans Joe Kelly or Kendall Graveman if the Chicago White Sox are out of the race by July.
Toronto Blue Jays: Starter Chris Bassitt, formerly with Oakland, pulled no punches ripping Athletics owner John Fisher and the mess they have on the baseball field while speaking to “Foul Territory”: “We know how much money is made in this game. We just know it and with revenue sharing and all that, I just think it’s ridiculous to have a team that’s just not trying to win when you know how much money is being brought in. … I’m not saying you got to go spend $400 million, but I mean, you got to put a product on the field where it’s like, ‘All right, we’re investing in players that are really, really good to try to win a World Series.’ So I just think if you’re not in the game to try to win a World Series, then I don’t think you should be an owner. I really don’t.”
Arizona Diamondbacks: Emmanuel Rivera wasn’t upset about being optioned to Class AAA Reno (Nevada) after the World Baseball Classic, in which he played for Puerto Rico. And since he was called up on April 25 after the Diamondbacks optioned Jake McCarthy to Reno to work on his hitting, Rivera has provided offensive punch. Rivera hit his first home run of the season and had two hits May 6 for the Diamondbacks in a wild 8-7 win over Washington. He was hitting .407 in nine games entering the week, staying hot after batting .348 with six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 17 runs batted in for Reno, where he played 16 games. “There’s no difference. Same work I’ve been doing every day. Working in the cage, working with a lot of confidence,” Rivera said in Spanish.
Atlanta Braves: Atlanta outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. has hit at least 120 homers with 120 stolen bases quicker than anyone else in baseball history, achieving the feat in 539 games, eclipsing Cincinnati Reds great Eric Davis who did it 559 games.
Chicago Cubs: The promotion of first baseman Matt Mervis, 25, has been a long time coming. Mervis, ranked the sixth-best prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline, has been one of the best surprise stories in all of Minor League Baseball. Mervis had a breakout season in 2022 when he hit .309/.379/ .605 with 36 homers and 119 runs driven in across three minor league levels, including Class AAA with the Iowa Cubs. Mervis began the season in Triple-A and didn’t miss a beat. In 24 games with Iowa, Mervis hit .286/.402/.560 with seven doubles and six homers. Veteran
Eric Hosmer has assumed a bench role to allow Mervis playing time . ... Patrick Wisdom leads the Cubs with 11 home runs while slugging .587. Cody Bellinger is 12-for-40 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs and four RBI over the last 10 games.
Cincinnati Reds: Even though first baseman Joey Votto doesn’t have a date set for his next rehab assignment or his return date to the Reds roster, he said he’ll be back in games in the “not too distant future.” Votto, who had surgery on his left biceps and rotator cuff Aug. 19, is about nine months into a rehab process that typically takes eight to 12 months. He tried to rush back to be ready for opening day, and Votto then went on a rehab assignment in Class AAA from April 1 to April 14. Four weeks later, Votto said the difference in his left shoulder is “night and day.” He’s getting back more range of motion in his shoulder. He’s able to recover better after an intense round of batting practice. His bat path is moving closer to what it was last year.
Colorado Rockies: The Rockies are expected to try to work out an incentiveladen contract extension with German Márquez now that he will have Tommy John surgery that will sideline him late into 2024. He’s in the final year of a fiveyear, $43 million contract that includes a $16.5 million option or $2.5 million buyout in 2024. The team’s ace had made at least 28 starts in each of his past six full seasons. Márquez is 2-2 with a 4.95 ERA in four starts this season and is two strikeouts shy of tying Jorge De La Rosa for Colorado’s franchise record of 985.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Mookie Betts hit a game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth inning and James Outman hit a two-run shot in the 10th to give the Dodgers a 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres on May 7. The Dodgers won two of three games in the series in the first meeting between the teams since the Padres stunned Los Angeles in the NL division series in October. The last time the Padres won a regular-season home series against the Dodgers at Petco Park was when they swept them in three games from June 21-23, 2021. Since then, San Diego has lost all four series versus Los Angeles. In the regular season since Aug. 24, 2021, the Padres have gone (625) against the Dodgers.
Miami Marlins: The Marlins are 11-0 in one-run games this year after going 24-40 in one-run games last seasons. The 1972 Mets are the only team with as long a stretch of consecutive wins in one-run games to open a season, going 11-0.
Milwaukee Brewers: A team spokesman confirmed that the Brewers are reverting to the practice of beer sales through the seventh inning, undoing the change that was made to move that cutoff to the eighth inning at American Family Field. The maneuver aimed to address the potential loss of concession sales from a sped-up fan experience, with game times down considerably thanks to new on-field rules. The new mandate is effective immediately. “This wasn’t related to any uptick in incidents, as the vast majority of fans have continued to be responsible and we haven’t seen anything to cause concern,” said Tyler Barnes, the Brewers senior vice president for communications. “What we have experienced is that the sale of all concessions drops off precipitously in the later innings, and with the faster game times, the extra 15 to 20 minutes of sales has been materially insignificant.” The Rockies, Diamondbacks, Twins and Rangers were among teams that also extended their beer vending through the eighth. The advent of the pitch timer has shortened the average MLB game length to 2 hours and 39 minutes, a full 27 minutes shorter than last year’s average. It’s the shortest average game time since 1984 . ... One of the best free agent pickups of the winter was 37-year-old Wade Miley, who has been stellar for the Brewers, going 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA, averaging six innings a start. The price tag: one year, $3.5 million, with a $10 million mutual option or a $1 million buyout.
New York Mets: Matt Harvey, 34, announced last week he was retiring from baseball after a nine-year pitching career highlighted by his time as the Mets’ “Dark Knight.” Harvey, whose star faded amid injuries and a late-career suspension for drug distribution, was selected seventh overall by the Mets in the 2010 amateur draft and made a heralded major league debut in 2012. He started the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field but a little more than a month later tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2015 and went 13-8, helping the Mets reach the World Series, where they lost to the Kansas City Royals. He was traded to the Reds in May 2018, pitched for the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, the Royals in 2020 and the Baltimore Orioles in 2021. Health woes, including thoracic outlet syndrome, contributed to Harvey failing to recapture his early career magic . ... Carlos Carrasco might be a little further off in his recovery from right elbow inflammation and a bone spur in his elbow. The Mets veteran starting pitcher had to have his rehab start pushed back from this past weekend as he was dealing with a stomach virus. He now might need two rehab starts before returning to the rotation.
Philadelphia Phillies: Ranger Suárez (left forearm strain) threw 48 pitches over five innings in a rehab start with Class AAA Lehigh Valley (Allentown, Pennsylvania) on May 7. Suárez allowed one run on four hits with three strikeouts and no walks. He is slated to rejoin the Phillies on their upcoming trip to Colorado, which begins on May 12, and return to the rotation for the first time in 2023 . ... Closer Craig Kimbrel was an All-Star
with the Chicago Cubs in 2021, yielding a 0.49 ERA and 0.70 WHIP, but hasn’t been the same since being traded to the White Sox that summer, then with the Dodgers and now Phillies. He since has yielded a 4.64 ERA and this year has a gruesome 8.25 ERA and 1.750 WHIP.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates are the surprise story of the National League the first month of the season, sitting atop the division entering May for the first time since 1992. The 114 runs scored by the Pirates in their first 32 games were the team’s most since Honus Wagner played for them in 1902. Pardon executives and scouts for not believing it will last, believing they are a year away. “If they finish .500, I’ll be shocked,” one GM said. “But they’re coming. They’re getting close.” ... The Pirates starting pitchers have 15 victories and 18 quality starts this year. A year ago, they didn’t have their first win until May 9 with only two quality starts.
St. Louis Cardinals: Manager Oliver Marmol went off when asked bout being booed at home this past week. “You think they are more frustrated than us?” Marmol said. “No, I can tell you right now they’re not. That clubhouse is extremely frustrated. Understand something. I’ve had the privilege of doing this for 17 years for one organization. And whether you are in the minor leagues as a coach in the lowest level, or if you are a coach at the big league level, or you are managing in my seat, you wake up every single day with one thing in mind, and it’s how to improve the organization. So, to sit here and think other people are more frustrated than the people in this clubhouse is insane. Absolutely insane.” ... Paul Goldschmidt homered three times on May 7 as the Cardinals stopped an eightgame losing streak with a 12-6 win over the Tigers. Goldschmidt had four hits and four RBI in his third three-homer game, the first since March 29, 2019, against Milwaukee.
San Diego Padres: Padres outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. is the only player in baseball to have two two-homer games against future Dodgers Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. “He’s a star in the game,” the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts told reporters after the Padres’ 5-2 victory May 5 over the Dodgers. “He adds what any star in the game would add: energy, he plays a good right field, a leadoff bat with thump. He’s a superstar.” ... It’s hard to believe the Padres’ powerful offense has been limited to one or no runs in nine games already this season.
San Francisco Giants: Don’t count on the Giants joining the Mexico tourism committee after their two-game series against the San Diego Padres in Mexico City. “It’s been a mental grind; it’s been a
physical grind,” ace Logan Webb said. “I think three-quarters of our clubhouse has (diarrhea). Hopefully the (diarrhea) go away and we’ll be better in a couple days.” Giants outfielder Joc Pederson called it the most treacherous trip of his career. “We had a 4 1⁄2-hour flight to get there,” Pederson told reporters. “We got in at 1 in the morning, we were at customs for two hours, we had an hour and a halfhour bus ride. Get to the hotel at 4 in the morning. In altitude. Every bus ride to and from the stadium was an hour, 15 minutes. The game ended (Sunday) and after our bus left the field, it still took four hours to get in the air, and we got
here at 12 o’clock again.” Good luck to the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies, who will make the trip in the 2024 season.
Washington Nationals: The Nationals and Denver Nuggets have gotten quite chummy, sharing the same hotel in Minnesota in April, and now the same hotel in Phoenix last weekend. “They told us that we are their good-luck charm,” Nats manager Dave Martinez said. Will the Nationals bring that good luck to another Western Conference contender? They’ll be sharing a hotel with the Lakers in San Francisco this week when Los Angeles plays the Golden State
Warriors in the NBA playoffs . ... The Nationals front office actually recommended they give Stephen Strasburg a twoyear, $35 million contract extension when he exercised his opt-out after the 2019 season. He instead received a seven-year, $245 million deal. In the three years since signing the deal, he has since pitched 31.1 innings, going 1-4 with a 6.89 ERA. It’s unclear whether he will pitch again.