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Tag:Ryan Zimmerman
Posted on: June 6, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 10:35 am
 

Pepper: No baseball in November



Can Zack Greinke continue to lead the Brewers? What is going on with Cliff Lee? How important is Josh Hamilton to the Rangers? Scott Miller joins Lauren Shehadi with the answers.

By Evan Brunell


NO BASEBALL IN NOVEMBER
: As baseball tries to expand the postseason to one additional Wild Card series, the question has always been how that can be pulled off without pushing the postseason into November, which both fans and players dislike. Angels manager Mike Scioscia feels the postseason can be limited to just October and accommodate an expansion without eating into the 162-game season.

Scioscia, who is part of a special committee for on-field matters and has input into the expansion of the playoffs, feels that by tightening up travel time and playing the occasional doubleheader, an extra series can be fitted in easily. In regards to travel, Scioscia points to his own team's upcoming trip from L.A. to Seattle, New York, Florida and back to Los Angeles as inefficient because of two off days during the trip.

"I don't know what kindergartner figured that one out, but I think maybe we can move to first grade and get that a little better organized," Scioscia said. "The bottom line is we need to be more efficient with travel."

Scioscia believes teams should play in the division for the bulk of April, July and September, which will cut down on travel, as well as schedule the occasional double-header. If baseball can trim the postseason by a few days as well, the World Series would be complete by the time Halloween rolls around.

"We can't have baseball played in November," Scioscia said. "I don't think the Pilgrims set it up that way." (Los Angeles Times)

SLEEPLESS IN CHICAGO
: Cubs manager Mike Quade admitted after Albert Pujols' 12th inning walk-off home run on Saturday that he needs to do a better job communicating with his pitcher and catcher on what to do in these type of situations. Clearly, he's got some more work to do as Pujols repeated his walk-off home run heroics in the 10th inning Sunday. (MLB.com)

DEAD BALL
: The Phillies won Sunday's game 7-3, but that doesn't mask what was a missed opportunity to score an extra run for Philadelphia. Through no fault of the team, Domonic Brown's single hit the umpire at second base and was immediately ruled a dead ball. There were runners on first and third, but Ryan Howard, on third, was not allowed to advance. The bases were loaded for Wilson Valdez, who grounded into an inning-ending double play. Just overall a weird play and a weird result -- you'd think Howard would be able to score on that play. (MLB.com)

EJECTED
: Jason Marquis was ejected from the game Sunday after plunking Justin Upton for the fourth time in the four-game series. Both Marquis and manager Jim Riggleman were adamant that the HBP was not intentional after two Nationals got hit in the inning previous. You can believe that, as the game was currently 1-0 and Upton represented the go-ahead run on base. (MLB.com)

HARPER DOWN
: Touted Nationals prospect Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch on the left knee in the first inning, and had to leave the game after needing to hobble to the dugout. Good news, though: It appears to be just a bone bruise, so he should be back in the lineup before long. (Washington Post)

ZIMMERMAN REHABBING: In that same game in which Harper was struck by a pitch, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman began his comeback trail by going 2-for-2 with a walk. Zim had an ab tear way back on April 9 and is only just getting back into the fold. It's unclear when Zimmerman will return to Washington, but mid-June looks like a good bet. (MLB.com)

VERLANDER THE BEST? Jim Leyland's been around, so he's got plenty of first-hand experience on which pitcher has been the best to ever pitch for Leyland. The long-time skipper says Verlander has the best stuff of any pitcher he's seen without question, although he still calls Doug Drabek the best pitcher, as Verlander is still learning how to pitch. (MLB.com)

PERFECT IN TRIPLE-A
: Mike Minor has made two spot starts for the Braves due to Brandon Beachy's injury, but was shipped back to Triple-A as the club did not need a fifth starter for a while. Minor showed Atlanta he should be considered for the next spot start after taking a perfect game into the seventh and finishing up with a one-hitter through eight. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

TIME TO WAIT: Many in the game seemed to feel as if Brett Lawrie would be called up to Toronto last Friday. That changed when he was hit by a pitch, and that bruise has landed him on the seven-day DL although it was backdated to the point where he will only miss two games. Once Lawrie's pain subsides, he's expected to make his major-league debut. (MLB.com)

HITTING HINDERED: Luke Scott's torn labrum is affecting his hitting, he finally admitted on Sunday. Scott is hitting just .224 this year with six home runs and received a cortisone shot in the hopes that clears up the pain. For now, he's still avoiding any talk about surgery. (MASN)

BELTRAN BRUISED: Carlos Beltran has had a strong season so far, crushing a league-leading 19 doubles and playing in 57 of a possible 59 games. On Sunday, he had to leave the game with a bruise after fouling a ball off his right leg, but is considered day-to-day. (New York Times)

BACKSTOP HEALING: Nick Hundley bashed a home run in his rehab start on Sunday, proving his strained oblique has healed nicely. If he comes through his rehab assignment with no setbacks, he could be back in San Diego by Wednesday. (MLB.com)

MENTAL BREAKS: Jason Bay (New York Times) and Alex Rios (MLB.com) are both receiving mental breaks as both players are scuffling. Rios has been letting his frustrating seep out, so manager Ozzie Guillen feels as if Rios could benefit from a few days off. Bay, who has struggled mightily, will be back in the lineup when the team plays again Tuesday.

BATTING AROUND: Curious how many teams have batted around in the order during the first inning without recording an out? Well, the last time that happened was in 2006 when the Indians terrorized K.C. for seven runs before registering their first out, needing 10 hitters to do so. (Baseball Reference)

NEW JOB? Ozzie Guillen's on the hot seat in Chicago, so his job mixing drinks for a charity event could prove a harbinger of his future job. OK, not really. (White Sox Twitter)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 2, 2011 10:40 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 10:51 am
 

Pepper: Injuries at forefront



By Matt Snyder

BASEBALL TODAY: What will Tommy John surgery for Daisuke Matsuzaka mean for the Red Sox? What is the latest with Dan Haren? I joined Lauren Shehadi to discuss a few of the injuries around baseball. Click on the above video to check it out.

HUGHES PROGRESSING: Ailing Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes could begin a minor-league rehab stint soon. Hughes threw a bullpen session Wednesday night and was pain-free. If he feels no setbacks following another session Saturday -- likely a simulated game or batting practice -- the next step could very well be a rehab assignment. Hughes has been on the shelf since April 14 with an inflamed shoulder and is hoping to return before the end of the month. (NYPost.com)

ZIMM BACK IN ACTION: It's been quite a while since the Nationals had third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup, but he took a step forward Wednesday, as he played three innings in an extended spring training game. Remember, this isn't a rehab assignment -- which is limited to 30 days -- but it does mean he's ready to start getting closer to such a step. (MLB.com)

BOCHY'S PLEA: Giants manager Bruce Bochy -- who, you may have heard, recently lost his catcher for the season -- reportedly made a "passionate plea" to Joe Torre in the MLB offices about better protecting catchers from injury. Bochy doesn't want to make any sort of slide rule, but would like the league to suspend players who hit catchers not blocking the plate. Check out the full quotes on Extra Baggs. I'm against any rule changes and the general sanctimony directed at the play just because a great player got hurt, but Bochy's actually got a point. If the catcher is 100 percent blocking the plate, the runner should bowl him over. That's baseball. But if he's off to the side of the plate and the runner goes out of his way to level the catcher, that shouldn't be tolerated.

WELLS READY FOR FRESH START: Vernon Wells got off to an awful start for the Angels and then hit the DL. As he prepares to return, he's ready to forget what has already happened and look for a new beginning. Wells: "You can't go back and change that (poor start). But I guess it is a chance for a new start. You're going to see numbers 'before DL' and 'post-DL' now. You'll have that stat breakdown, before and after. I guarantee you my post-DL numbers will be better than my pre-DL numbers." (OC Register) Just in case anyone's wondering, the "before DL" numbers: .183 average, four home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs, .527 OPS in 35 games.

MAYBE KEEP IT DOWN NEXT TIME? Rickie Weeks led off the game with a home run Wednesday night at Cincinnati. It was the third time this season he's done so in that very ballpark. He's spreading the wealth, too, because his three blasts have come off three different pitchers (Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake).

POWER OUTAGE: Justin Turner's eighth-inning home run for the Mets broke a 10-game homerless streak, their longest in 21 years. It also ended a 10-game streak of the sort at Citi Field, their longest home streak since 1979. Don't expect questions about moving in the fences to go away anytime soon. (NY Times Bats blog)

COLLINS ERUPTS: Of course, Mets manager Terry Collins doesn't much care about home runs, specifically, but he's getting a little tired of losing. Via ESPN New York, here we go: "I'm running out of ideas here. Do we play hard? Absolutely. That’s not the issue. The issue is not effort. That’s not it. It’s about execution. We have to add on some points when we get the lead. And I’m not looking for home runs. I’m looking for quality at-bats. We can’t make careless mistakes. We do. We give up at-bats. We can’t do that. We don’t have that kind of team." He went on for a good bit, and concluded with this: " ... maybe I’ve got to make some adjustments. And, by god, they’ll be made. I don’t know if it comes with finding different players. But they’ll be made. Something is going to be changing."

MAN OF THE HOUR: We posted about Adam Jones' brilliant catch Wednesday, and after the game the compliments from his teammates flowed. Orioles closer Kevin Gregg raved that Jones "looked like Griffey," while starting pitcher Brian Matusz said, "It was awesome. It was a good momentum thing because it put a smile on my face and it helped me relax a little bit and have fun." O's manager Buck Showalter said that Jones has been "spoiling" his teammates with his defensive play all season. (MLB.com)

PAGING CARP: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times makes the case that the Mariners should call on prospect Mike Carp immediately and plug him in left field. The fact is the Mariners have gotten basically nothing out of left field, and Carp could give the still-weak offense a boost. He's on a 17-game hitting streak with a .325 average and 14 homers in Triple-A. Meanwhile, Carlos Peguero is reeling in left for the big-league club, which is currently only 1 1/2 games out of first place in the up-for-grabs AL West. As I find myself doing more often than not, I agree with Baker. The Mariners are right in the mix and need more offense.

NO JOYCE FOR D-BACKS: One of the feel-good stories from last season was how umpire Jim Joyce and pitcher Armando Galarraga came together following Joyce's blown call that cost Galarraga a perfect game. It even ended up with the two collaborating on a book -- "Nobody's Perfect: Two Men, One Call, and a Game for Baseball History" -- which is being released Thursday. Due to the business relationship, Joyce has been forbidden by Major League Baseball to work any Arizona Diamondbacks games. Galarraga is not even with the D-Backs at present, as he's in Triple-A, but Joyce is still not allowed to do any Arizona games. (ESPN.com)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 30, 2011 3:18 pm
 

Ryan Zimmerman to miss six weeks with ab tear

By Evan Brunell

ZimmermanRyan Zimmerman will require surgery for a rectus muscle in his abdomen after his rehab from an ab strain did not go as planned, reports CSN Washington.

Zimmerman had been out since April 10th with the injury after getting off to a hot start with a .357/.486/.536 line in 37 plate appearances. The blow is a significant one to a team that could use Zim's offense as they fight to stay over .500 the entire year; the Nats are currently at 12-13.. Now, the team will have to get by with a combination of Alex Cora, Jerry Hairston and Mike Morse at the hot corner.

Zimmerman's prognosis for a return is six weeks, although he will need to go on a rehab assignment that will lengthen his absence from the team. That puts his return at the earliest in mid- to late-June.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: April 27, 2011 9:59 am
 

Pepper: Johan's return on horizon



By Matt Snyder


When Mets ace Johan Santana underwent surgery on his left anterior shoulder capsule last September 14, the thought was he might return to the mound in the majors in early July of 2011. He's still not far enough along in the process to make an accurate call on when he might suit up for the Mets again, but he's definitely progressing and has had very few setbacks so far.

Tuesday afternoon, it was reported Santana was making "firm" throws from 120 feet. Remember, a pitching mound is roughly half that distance from home plate. He reportedly might back up to 150-foot throws before getting on that mound to feel things out from there, but he might be ready now to start the process on working himself back onto the hill. (ESPN New York)

Even if he did get on the hill within the next few days, Santana would need several bullpens and a minor-league rehab stint before rejoining his team.

Still, after an abysmal start, things are looking up for the Mets. They've won five straight games and now can at least think about getting Johan back at some point in the first half of the season. Santana is 40-25 with a 2.85 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 496 strikeouts in 88 starts for the Mets.

BASEBALL TODAY: Will Andre Ethier keep his hitting streak alive? Can the Red Sox rebound with Josh Beckett on the mound? Tony Lee of NESN.com joins Lauren Shehadi to fill you in.

ABOUT THAT STREAK: I had some thoughts on Ethier's streak and hitting streaks in general yesterday. In case it got buried in the Everett/Dykstra madness, here it is .

ZIMMERMAN/HAMILTON DOING BASEBALL THINGS: Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Hamilton are two of the big names early in the season who have gone down with injuries. Both resumed what are terms as "baseball activities" Tuesday. Zimmerman did some light throwing and running, while Hamilton took some fly balls in the outfield and lightly tossed them back. Hamilton isn't anywhere near a return to the Rangers, though. Zimmerman was supposed to be at least close to back by now, considering the initial prognosis was three weeks -- and that was April 9. The Nationals are taking extra precautions with their star third baseman, so things are going to move slowly. He is expected to go on a minor-league rehab assignment before returning to the big club. (Nationals Journal )

MATUSZ PAIN-FREE: It's been a rough 2011 for promising Baltimore pitcher Brian Matusz. It seems like he's only suffered setback after setback in his attempt to return from an intercostal strain in his shoulder. Tuesday, however, was a good day. Matusz threw long-toss (120 feet) and some light tossing off the mound and did so without pain.

"I felt really good. I felt good health-wise and I felt good mechanically," he said. "The pain's gone. I want to keep it that way. I've just got to be able to build my way back up as possible without taking it too far too fast."

Matusz and the Orioles are looking at a mid-May return. (School of Roch )

SAVE SKEWERING: Matthew Leach of MLB.com wrote a great column on how managers have been taken out of their best mindset simply by one stat: Saves. The simplest way to put his point is that the highest-leverage situation in a game for a relief pitcher could come in any inning, and if it falls somewhere before the ninth inning, the manager refuses to use his best reliever, simply because it's not a save situation. And this could actually cost teams games. A highly recommended read. (MLB.com )

MR. APRIL: Kosuke Fukudome is an elite player in April. Seriously. This is his fourth April. In 343 April (or March) plate appearances in his career, Fukudome is hitting .358 with a .466 on-base percentage, 19 doubles, 10 home runs, 43 RBI and 53 runs. His 1.015 OPS absolutely dwarfs his next highest total for any month (.834 in August is next, while June and September are below .640). Fangraphs.com notices that this April, where he's almost hitting .500, is different than the past three, however.

SQUEEZE PLAY SANDWICH: There won't be a middle ground here. You'll either think this "sandwich" looks awesome or disgusting. I fall in the former camp. (This is why you're huge )

THE THREE-(BLACK)HOLE:
The Red Sox are getting nearly nothing out of the third spot in the batting order. Considering the three options coming into the season to hit there were Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia, it's a bit puzzling. Good analysis here, and -- much like the writer -- I'd expect the Red Sox just leave Gonzalez there and he will come around. (WEEI.com )

OLD-SCHOOL VS. NEW-SKOOL: Here's an interesting piece about a fan taking his young son to both Miller Park and Wrigley Field and how much more kid-friendly Miller Park is. No, it's not the typical -- and played and over-played -- assault on Wrigley Field fans and the so-called party atmosphere. He points out all the activities for kids to do, Bernie Brewer going down the slide, the fact that there is a roof when the weather is bad and that there is a playground. His broad point is that getting kids to love baseball starts with getting them to have fun at the ballpark and it's not fun for a six-year-old to sit in frigid weather at a place like Wrigley. Even as a Cubs fan, I'm OK with that logic. At least it wasn't another uncreative attack on Cubs fans. (Platoon Advantage )

HIS NAME IS TREY: Of course it is. The grandchild of Ken Griffey and son of Ken Griffey Jr., Trey Griffey, is looking to break into the collegiate sports world. Only he wants to play football. He's in the 2012 recruiting class, but unfortunately he's only been offered by Florida International. Still, the wideout does still have his senior  year and some pretty enticing bloodlines. (Dr. Saturday )

UBALDO THE ROCKS' WORST STARTING PITCHER? Say what? Beyond the Box Score measures this question with some data. I don't think anyone would predict this would be the case for the entire season, especially if Ubaldo Jimenez is completely healthy. The broader point is that with Esmil Rogers, Jason Hammel and Jhoulys Chacin coming into their own while Jorge De La Rosa throws well, the Rockies' rotation is pretty deep. It's a big part of the reason the Rockies are off to a franchise-best start and have done so pretty much without the help of Jimenez or Carlos Gonzalez.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Pepper: Dangerous game for fans, too

Jose Salazar

By C. Trent Rosecrans


When I went to Class A game the other day, I sat in the front row just to film from that angle and I was shocked at just how close I was sitting -- and how little the fans around me were paying attention.

Of course, it's worse at the minor-league level and in spring training where the stadiums are smaller, but it's still dangerous at the big-league level. Last night in Los Angeles, a fan at the Dodgers game was hit by a foul ball from Matt Holliday and carried off on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. [Associated Press ]

This spring, of course, Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar was struck in the face by a foul ball and lost an eye.

On Friday, Salazar returned to manage the Lynchburg Hillcats.

This weekend, it was a feel-good story to see Salazar back in uniform, but it was so close to being different. [Lynchburg News Advance ]

STRANGE BALK -- Take a minute to watch this -- last night Justin Verlander tried to pick off Daric Barton at first, but caught a cleat in the dirt, so instead of making a bad throw to first, he threw home and hit David DeJesus. Home plate umpire John Hirschbeck ruled it a balk, awarding Barton second base. DeJesus later walked. Verlander said afterward, even he laughed at how it looked. [MLB.com ]

BRADEN LEAVES EARLY -- A's starter Dallas Braden left Saturday's game with shoulder stiffness after five innings. There's no update yet, but it could be bad news for the A's. [San Francisco Chronicle ]

AFRICAN-AMERICAN PARTICIPATION DECLINES
-- As teams honored Jackie Robinson this weekend, the Mets' Willie Harris finds the lack of African-Americans in the game "sad." Only 9.1 percent of major leaguers on opening day 2010 were African-American, while 20 percent were in 1995. Harris said he doesn't think MLB markets its top African-American stars, such as Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford and CC Sabathia, well enough. [New York Daily News

Rockies STARTER FALLS - - For the first time this season, a Rockies starter picked up a loss in the game. Jason Hamel was the first Rockies starter to earn an L, falling 8-3 to the Cubs and ending the Rockies' seven-game winning streak. [Associated Press ]

AND THERE'S THAT
--The other day White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he has the league's best bullpen, despite his relievers blowing six saves and converting just one. On Saturday, he said he knows he has a good defensive team, despite its 15 errors this season, 13 in the last 10 games. [Chicago Tribune ]
 
SPEAKING OF -- The A's lead the majors with 17 errors, including one more on Saturday. First baseman Daric Barton -- widely viewed as one of the best defensive first basemen in the game -- is tied for the team-lead with three errors. Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has three, as well. [MLB.com ]

EARNING HIS KEEP -- Could this be the year Alfonso Soriano lives up to his promise and salary? Soriano leads the Cubs with five home runs and 12 RBI. [Chicago Tribune ]

NO LEFTY -- The Dodgers don't have a left-handed reliever in their bullpen after Hong-Chih Kuo was place don the disabled list and replaced on the roster by right-hander Ramon Troncoso. [Los Angeles Times ]

ROYAL PEN -- One of the reasons the Royals are leading in the American League Central is their bullpen, well, almost all of their bullpen. In a reversal of expectations, only closer Joakim Soria, one of the best closers in baseball the last couple of years, has struggled. Manager Ned Yost said his closer is just "human" and should be fine. Still, the likes of Tim Collins, Jeremy Jeffress and Aaron Crow have impressed. [Kansas City Star ]

NEW PITCH -- Giants closer Brian Wilson is playing coy about a new pitch in his arsenal. Wilson, who will talk about most subjects, isn't discussing a new pitch he's throwing to right-handed batters. It may be a two-seam fastball, a cutter or even a screwball. [San Jose Mercury News ]

ATTENDANCE WOES -- This month six teams have set records for their lowest attendance since their current park opened -- the Braves, Indians, Mariners, Cardinals, Yankees and Twins. Overall attendance is down just two percent this year, which is less than I expected. [USA Today ]

HOW LOW CAN IT GO? -- Seattle is being hit particularly hard at the turnstiles. [Seattle Times ]

UBIQUITOUS OBLUQUE -- I missed this earlier this week, but heard Tim McCarver bring it up during yesterday's Mets-Braves games -- Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times wrote a great article about the oblique injury, noting 14 players had gone on the DL this year with an oblique injury. Also, before MRI technology improved to its current point, the injury had been called rib cage or abdominal injuries, the diagnosis is just better nowadays.

BIG DRAFT -- What if you had to pick from Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Justin Upton, Ricky Romero, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Mike Pelfrey, Wade Townsend, Chris Volstad, John Mayberry Jr., Jacoby Ellsbury, Colby Rasmus or Clay Buchholz? The 2005 draft offered those choices. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ]

WRIGLEY GRIDIRON -- The Cubs and Northwestern want to continue playing football games at Wrigley Field, despite the challenges they faced this season. In the end, money wins. [Chicago Tribune ]

TUCSON HOME -- Padres owner Jeff Moorad said Tucson will be the Triple-A home for the Padres for at least another year and could be an option if the team isn't able to get funding for a park in Escondido, Calif. [Arizona Daily Star ]

A DIFFERENT MANNY -- Manny Ramirez changed when he went to Boston. [Akron Beacon-Journal ]

HOT DOGGIN' -- A look at the best and craziest hot dogs at ballparks this season. I'm thinking about getting that Meat Lovers Dog at Great American Ball Park later today. I'll take pictures. In the name of "journalism" of course. I'm also curious about the Bahn Mi Dog at Nationals Stadium and [SeriousEats.com ]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: April 11, 2011 3:31 pm
 

Nats' Zimmerman to DL

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ryan ZimmermanRyan Zimmerman will be headed to the disabled list before tomorrow's game  against the Phillies, CSNWashington.com's Mark Zuckerman reports.

Zimmerman has a strained abdominal muscle that kept him out of Sunday's game against the Mets. The move will be retroactive to Sunday, meaning he will be eligible to return on April 25.

Zimmerman struggled with the same injury in the spring and had appeared to be playing in pain since opening day.

Jerry Hairston Jr. and Alex Cora could serve as replacements for Zimmerman at third base while he's out. The team will officially make the move tomorrow.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

Posted on: April 11, 2011 10:29 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:54 am
 

Pepper: No change in the Cards at closer

Ryan FranklinBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Three out of four isn't bad. Well, unless you're a closer and you've blown three of four save chances.

The only thing worse than having a closer that can't close is the manager having zero confidence in anybody else in the bullpen. 

When St. Louis manager Tony La Russa was asked if he was considering changing his closer from Ryan Franklin, he answered, "who's better?"

"Somebody's got to come up with somebody that's better on our club right now," La Russa told MLB.com's Matthew Leach. "The fact is that right now those young guys aren't better."

The young guys are Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte, both of whom are being groomed to take over for Franklin.

In fairness to Franklin, errors by Albert Pujols and Colby Rasmus with two outs in the ninth led to two victories by the Giants on Friday and Saturday, respectively. However, the way the Cardinals are constructed, defense will not be bailing out too many pitchers this season, and Pujols and Rasmus are two of the teams' better defenders.

Sunday the Cardinals found a way to avoid a closer breakdown -- by giving its pitchers a five-run lead to close out. They were successful, salvaging the series against the Giants with a 6-1 get-away day win in San Francisco.

RED-HOT Rangers -- Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram joins Lauren Shehadi to talk about the Rangers' great start.

CABRERA HELPING CABRERA -- The influence of veteran Orlando Cabrera has already started paying off for the Indians. During spring, Cabrera noticed Asdrubal Cabrera's approach in batting practice was that of a slugger, not a shortstop. He told him to try that in a game sometime. During the Indians' seven-game winning streak, Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .316 with three homers and nine RBI. Asdrubal Cabrera had three homers all of last season. [MLB.com]

SIX-MAN ROTATION? -- The White Sox may look at a six-man rotation when Jake Peavy returns because of the performance of Phil Humber, at least on a short-term basis. [Chicago Tribune]

NICE MATCHUP -- For just the 21st time in history, two authors of perfect games will start against each other tonight, as Oakland's Dallas Braden faces Chicago's Mark Buehrle.

DUNN TAKE BP -- White Sox slugger Adam Dunn took batting practice before Sunday's game against the Rays and could return to the team's lineup as soon as today.

"It was good to get out of solitary confinement and hang out with the general population, you know what I mean," Dunn told the Chicago Tribune's Dave van Dyck.

However, Dunn said he was done making predictions about when he'd return when asked if he could play today against Oakland.

TINKERING -- Derek Jeter isn't the only Yankee messing with his mechanics -- right-hander Phil Hughes tinkered with his motion during his bullpen session on Sunday. Hughes is attempting to use more of the bottom half of his body in his delivery. [New York Times]

ROUSING THE TROOPS -- Rays manager Joe Maddon tried to eject all four umpires in Sunday's 6-1 loss to the White Sox. [St. Petersburg Times]

Enjoy this video while it lasts (why MLB.com won't allow embedded videos, I just don't know...)

LAROCHE CONFIDENT HE'LL BE BACK SOON -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said he doesn't expect to miss any time after leaving Sunday's game with a strained left groin. LaRoche left in the 11th inning against the Mets, but said today's day off for the Nationals would give him ample healing time. [MASNSports.com]

ZIMMERMAN UNSURE OF RETURN -- Unlike his teammate LaRoche, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is unsure when he'll return from his strained abdominal muscle. Zimmerman will be re-evaluated on Tuesday following the off day. [Washington Post]

YOUNG UNHAPPY -- Mets right-hander Chris Young wasn't perfect on Sunday and  that wasn't good enough for him or the Mets. In his first seven-inning outing in nearly two years, Young allowed just one hit and two walks, and the walk came back to hurt him, accounting for the lone run he gave up to the Nationals. After he left the game, Washington tied the game in the eighth inning before winning it in the 11th. Young picked up a no-decision, but is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts for the Mets this season.  [ESPNNewYork.com]

BACK-TO-BACK -- Mark Prior pitched on back-to-back days for the Class A Tampa Yankees on Saturday and Sunday as he makes the transition from starter to reliever in an attempt to return to the majors for the first time since 2006. Prior's fastball reached 91 on both days. [MLB.com]

NO BIG DEAL -- Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins downplayed conflicting statements from pitcher Matt Garza and manager Mike Quade following Garza's loss to the Brewers on Saturday. [Chicago Sun-Times]

NO REPLICAS FOR FANS -- The Giants will not make replica World Series rings available to fans, but you can by commemorative jewelry from the team. So, you know, if you've outgrown your class ring, you can get a ring that's symbolic of an achievement you had absolutely zero to do with earning yourself. But, you know, if you have $3,570 dollars just lying around with nothing else to really do with it, why not? It's not like there are charities that could use it more than you can use a 14K white gold ring with diamonds and your name on it that will repel women. Seriously, just buy one of the cool hats with the gold SF the team wore the other day. [San Francisco Chronicle]

NEW BOX -- The fine folks over at FanGraphs have unveiled their new boxscore. I swear there are some stats that aren't real in there just to see if you're paying attention. Seriously, there's just about everything you'd ever want in this box, and going through one could take longer than actually watching the game. And I mean that in the most awesome way possible. [FanGraphs.com]

OLD GLOVES -- A cool graphic on the evolution of the baseball glove, or at least Spalding's gloves (and a bonus Wilson one, even though I've always been a Rawlings guy). [UniWatchBlog]

NICE DAY AT THE PARK -- What's better than a beautiful Sunday at the ballpark? Try a day at the park followed by a post-game concert by the Avett Brothers. The band performed at Turner Field yesterday following the Phillies' 3-0 victory. My sisters-in-law and other friends went, plus one of my sisters-in-law met Kevin Gillespie in the beer line -- not a bad day.

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Posted on: April 10, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Strained abdominal muscle sidelines Zimmerman

By Matt Snyder

The Nationals will be without their best player Sunday, as Ryan Zimmerman is out with a strained abdominal muscle. It's an injury that initially occurred in spring training but was reaggravated Saturday night. The club hasn't made a decision about a possible stint on the disabled list, as there's an off-day Monday and Zimmerman will be re-evaluated Tuesday after two straight days off.

“If playing risks making it get worse, then rest is the prudent course,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “But so far he’s fine doing most movements. Swinging the bat, playing defense and running the bases, he’s fine. Certain movements and certain angles of the throws, and when he slid right on it, that hurt.” (Washington Post )

Zimmerman, 26, has gotten off to a hot start to the 2011 season. He's hitting .357 with a home run, four RBI, five runs and a 1.022 OPS.

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