Tag:Stephen Strasburg
Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 11:52 am
 

Pepper: Injury bug biting Brewers



By Matt Snyder


Whether it's Zack Greinke's rib injury, Yuniesky Betancourt's quad or Carlos Gomez's back, things generally haven't been feeling physically well at Brewers camp. They seem to have at least a minor malady for everyone on the team -- even two guys with an intercostal injury, which I didn't even know was a thing. Apparently they are muscles on the rib cage that help contract the chest.

Chris Dickerson is someone who has that issue. He hurt his Monday against the Giants, when he had an ugly collision with Pablo Sandoval. It wasn't exactly a Casey-level beatdown, but Dickerson seemed to have lost. The collision prompted a somewhat humorous/somewhat realistic quote from Randy Wolf.

"Thank God Sandoval lost 30 pounds or that might have been a decapitation," Wolf told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel . "I thought he dislocated his shoulder. It sounded bad."

Wolf later added he's afraid to walk to his car, and he may not have been kidding.

The Brewers can take solace in the fact that it's only spring and they haven't lost anyone for the season yet, like their division-mate Cardinals.

DREW'S MOOD HATS: Potential Nationals closer Drew Storen had struggled this spring, but put together a solid outing Monday. If you peered inside the brim of his hat, you'd have seen: "Down." "Precise." "Focus through the target." The youngster followed his own advice, setting the Tigers down in order in his one inning of work. Writing reminder messages in his hats isn't new for Storen, as he's already cycled through four this spring and has countless left from last year.

"It's kind of like a mood ring, it's a mood hat," he told the Washington Times . "I keep them all. Since there's so much going on, I'll be the first to admit, you get caught up in thinking about throwing things and try to do too much. It's just a nice, easy way to bring your mind back into it."

If a quirk like this seems weird, you've never been around a baseball locker room. In fact, this is relatively normal. Hey, whatever works.

STRASBURG PROGRESSING: Speaking of Nationals pitchers drafted in the first round in 2009, Stephen Strasburg is reportedly making good progress as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. He's now throwing 90 feet off flat ground and eyes a September return. As you might remember, he had the surgery last September and the normal recovery period is 12-18 months. But just because he has high expectations doesn't mean he's impatient.

"I have to no choice [but to be patient]. I can't just wake up the next morning expecting to get on the mound. It's a slow gradual process. It's about the slow steady progress. It has to take its time and let the body heal naturally." (MLB.com )

IN OR OUT? Luis Castillo might win the second base job for the Mets out of camp because they have no better options. But manager Terry Collins reportedly doesn't really want Castillo around -- only he hasn't officially said as much. Some believe the higher-ups on the Mets would rather Castillo start, but J.P. Ricciardi backs Brad Emaus. Basically, no one really knows what is going on. (ESPN New York )

BELTRE BACK:
Monday, Adrian Beltre made his spring debut, and it went off without a hitch. The third baseman -- who had been sidelined with a strained calf -- played five innings, going 1-3. His only issue had nothing to do with his calf and should be completely expected under the circumstances. "I felt a little bit rusty," he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram .

PLAY IT AGAIN, RICH: In the least surprising news of the spring, Rich Harden needs to see a doctor. He hasn't thrown a bullpen since February 15, but felt an issue in his lat muscle Sunday and it looks like he's going to be shut down again. (MLB.com ) It's sad to say, but even at age 29, it's hard to see him ever regaining form for an extended period of time. That sparkling 2008 season -- 10-2, 2.07 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 181 K in 148 innings -- will likely go down as his best. With the kind of stuff he has, when healthy, that's a shame. UPDATE: Susan Slusser reports Harden will throw Wednesday and he hasn't suffered a setback.

WHAT IF ... : MLB Trade Rumors has put together a list of what the free agent class might look like at the end of this season if no one had signed extensions. It's worth a look for entertainment purposes.

IT'S ONLY SPRING, BUT ... : ... the Diamondbacks suck. The always-great Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic points out the Snakes would have a record of 4-13-3 if you only count the first five innings of every game this spring -- which is when the major-league starters are still in the game. Perhaps nothing could be more telling than a quote from manager Kirk Gibson: "I'm ready to be impressed, I can tell you that." Such a statement in the spring is troubling, because most of the time optimism is in the air.

BARTMAN MOVIE OUT SOON: Catching Hell , an ESPN 30-for-30 documentary about the infamous Steve Bartman foul ball (Cubs, Moises Alou, Marlins, 2003 NLCS, Game 6 ... c'mon, you know this) will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 20-May 1 in New York City. The one thing that's amazing to me in the years since that inning is how much people -- non-Cubs fans, to be specific -- seem to enjoy pointing out the loss wasn't Bartman's fault. The insinuation behind this is that all Cubs fans blame the loss on Bartman, which couldn't be further from the truth. Go talk to a group of educated Cubs fans and Alex Gonzalez's name is much more blasphemous. I'll reserve judgment on the movie until it comes out, but I can't help but think some myths are going to be further perpetuated because a few jerk fans threw things at Bartman -- which was reprehensible. In fact, expect a further rant from me on the subject when the movie is released. (Chicago Tribune )

"BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!" We've all heard it in spring training. We've all mocked it. But a sample of players the past few years who have declared they are in the best shape of their life have actually outperformed expectations more than players who didn't make such a declaration in the spring. It doesn't mean there's always merit behind the claim, but it's certainly an interesting query. (Baseball Prospectus )

THE GREEK GOD OF JOKES:
Kevin Youkilis walked and then struck out to Yankees 20-year-old prospect Manny Banuelos Monday night. So, naturally, Banuelos is a stud, right? "He's going to be a Hall of Famer," Youkilis told reporters (New York Times ). He made it clear he was kidding, but didn't want to go overboard. When he got serious about the potential phenom, he was respectful.

"He's got three pitches he can throw pretty good, now he has to learn how to pitch," said Youkilis, adding: "If he figures it out, he'll be all right. Being left-handed and throwing hard, if you throw three good pitches and you're left-handed, you don't even have to throw 90."

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

 

More MLB coverage

Posted on: March 11, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 11:51 am
 

Pepper: Wagner coach at 28; Japan quake fallout

Pepper

By Evan Brunell

These days are certainly different for Ryan Wagner, a 2003 first-round pick of the Reds. He debuted that same year at age 21 and looked as if he would deliver on his promise, but injuries and attrition caused him to struggle over the next two years before being dealt to the Nationals in a contentious deal, with Cincinnati later alleging that the Nationals then-GM Jim Bowden wasn't up-front about the injury issues of reliever Gary Majewski. 

With the Nats, Wagner was nothing more than a fungible reliever who regressed in effectiveness before undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in 2007. After two years of trying to rehab the injury, Wagner called it quits in 2009. And now, he's a 28-year-old manager, accepting a job with the Victoria Generals in the Texas Collegiate League, a college summer league.

"The college level is where I want to be," Wagner said. "I love coaching the younger boys, but it's definitely a slowdown from the big leagues.

"With the little kids, it's fun teaching the fundamentals and watching them grow. But a lot of these kids are D-I players and when you tell them something they are able to make the adjustments." (Victoria Advocate)

DEVASTATION IN JAPAN: While Americans were sleeping soundly, Japan was the victim of the worst earthquake since 1900, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale. A tsunami developed that will hit Hawaii, but isn't expected to devastate the island. Other places, such as Thailand, may not be so lucky. In the midst of all this, Japan has canceled all professional baseball games for Saturday along with other major sporting events. (Yakyubaya.com)

CONCERN FOR GRANDMOTHER: There are plenty of Japanese ballplayers and media members stateside for spring training that have left many scrambling to contact friends and family. One such player is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has heard from his family and friends but has not been able to reach his grandmother. (Boston Herald)

Yankees LEGEND OK: Yogi Berra suffered a fall at Yankees spring training camp Thursday and was taken to the hospital as a precaution. The Hall of Famer is doing just fine and may even return to camp Friday. (New York Daily News)

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES: Stephen Strasburg has had a Twitter account for several months but only recently has been tweeting with any frequency. One such tweet yesterday: "Keeping it freaking stupid with coach today!" Who knows what that means, but good to know. (Washington Post)

WILD THING: "Adaptable, even-tempered and not easily rattled" were words used to describe Charlie Sheen. Huh. Interesting. But these words are from the Sheen of three decades ago when he was a relief pitcher for Santa Monica High School. Sheen served as a "very efficient" bullpen ace, coach Jose Lopez recalls. (Los Angeles Times)

MORE Mets MESS: Everyone knows about the Wilpons' struggle to hang onto the Mets in light of the Bernie Madoff scandal, but there's an entirely different scandal being dealt with at this point. Back in November, the Mets fired team employee Charlie Samuels, who admitted to gambling on baseball and also provided mob associates with insider tips. He is also under investigation for stealing memorabilia from the Mets clubhouse and then selling them. The New York Police Department's Organized Crime and Control Bureau was at Mets camp Thursday to interview players and employees about Samuels in the hope of ferreting out more information for the case. Baseball investigators were also on hand to see if illegal gambling is being conducted by other employees and players. Investigators spoke to people with close ties to Samuels, such as  Mike Piazza and Francisco Rodriguez. (New York Daily News)

AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT GAME: Rockies manager Jim Tracy finally got Denver Nuggets basketball coach George Karl in town, with Karl assisting Tracy in managing Thursday's game. While Karl's the basketball guru, he may have had a hand in Todd Helton cracking a double, speaking to the first baseman just before the at-bat. A bit of a stretch, but whatever, it's spring training. (Denver Post)

QUESTIONING COLE: MLB Trade Rumors has a bunch of questions for college pitcher Gerrit Cole, who should be a top-five pick in the upcoming amateur draft. Cole was plucked out of high school by the Yankees, but opted to go to UCLA and doesn't regret the decision. Also in the interview: Cole's relaying of a Charlie Sheen story. (MLB Trade Rumors)

OZZIE'S IMPRESSED: Dayan Viciedo has impressed manager Ozzie Guillen the most at spring training. The Cuban defector is currently converting to right field from third base as he looks unable to field the position and first base is locked up. Viciedo was hitting .476 in spring training games but a fractured right thumb will sideline him about a month and guarantees a ticket to Triple-A, which was likely coming regardless. If he can show some semblance of plate discipline, he could be a nice bat for years to come. (Chicago Sun-Times)

ON THE WAY BACK: Erik Bedard was one of the better left-handed starters in the game but missed all of 2010 and had just 30 games started combined between 2009-10. Clearly, Seattle's trade for Bedard hasn't quite worked out, but the lefty had a strong start Thursday and felt he was approaching how he felt during his 2006-07 run. That's all well and good, but the 31-year-old needs to actually pitch in a major league game multiple times before anyone gets excited. (MLB.com)

BIG SWEAT: Dennys Reyes makes himself known to Red Sox fans, as the portly left-hander appears all but a lock to snag a spot in the Red Sox bullpen as the requisite lefty. Reyes has quite an interesting story of how he dislocated his right shoulder, which forced him to begin throwing left-handed. He didn't get the shoulder treated, which is why his right shoulder has a six-inch hunch over the left and still causes him pain on certain fielding plays. (Boston Herald)

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

More MLB coverage

Posted on: March 9, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: March 9, 2011 10:48 am
 

Pepper: Davis finding his way



By Matt Snyder


Chris Davis may finally be ready.

In a straw poll of Rangers management, the Star-Telegram found Davis was easily the most impressive player thus far in camp. He's flashing power, hitting for a high average and playing solid defense. This follows a good season of winter ball, so it could be a harbinger of things to come in Texas.

We know the power he possesses. He hit 17 home runs in 295 at-bats in 2008 and then 21 in 391 in 2009. Of course, the problem is that his OBP deteriorated to a dreadful .284 in 2009 and his contact rate was embarrassing. He struck out 238 times in those two seasons -- which is a strikeout once in less than every three at-bats.

Most everything got worse last season. Davis hit only one home run in 120 at-bats. He struck out 40 times. He hit .192/.279/.571, good for a 54 OPS-plus.

The funny thing is, Davis has always destroyed minor-league pitching (.939 OPS) and is still only 24.

In terms of how the current Rangers roster is constructed, however, Davis may actually be blocked. Assuming Adrian Beltre is healthy and Michael Young doesn't get traded, there really isn't a spot. You've got Mitch Moreland at first base, Beltre at third, Young in the backup DH/1B/3B role and Mike Napoli also a DH who can fill in at first.

Maybe Davis gives the Rangers further incentive to offload Young? That might even mean eating a good portion of his remaining contract, but a powerful Chris Davis makes it easier to justify. That's just speculation, but it's entirely possible.

SOME TOMMY JOHN STATS: In an article about how the Reds are expecting Edinson Volquez to return to form this season, we're given a stat that 96 percent of the pitchers who undergo "Tommy John" surgery return to the same level of competition they were before the procedure. It makes sense. As long as the rehab and throwing programs are done properly, the newly inserted ligament should actually be stronger than the natural one was before the injury. This article notes that prior to injury, the ulnar-collateral ligament has likely been slowly deteriorated over time, so when the surgery happens, it's like a brand new ligament. There's a lot more interesting stuff in there, and it's a highly recommended click-through. (SI.com )

ON THE OTHER HAND:
Also in SI.com , Tom Verducci talked to a "leader in the field of pitching biomechanics," who said that Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg has a problematic delivery. Specifically, the contention is that Strasburg lands his front foot too early in his pitching motion, which puts in undue amount of torque on both his elbow and shoulder. When you considering how hard he throws, that's an excessive amount of pressure on those two body parts. There is also a moment in his delivery, according to the article, where Strasburg's elbow raises higher than his hand -- which switches the order of how the kinetics of a pitching motion are supposed to happen. This, again, puts a ton of pressure on his elbow. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, Nationals fans. I'm just passing along the info.

ONLY IN THE SPRING: Spring is a slow news time. You've got injuries and positional battles, sure, but otherwise it's mostly meaningless at-bats and killing time looking ahead to the regular season. Thus, Chipper Jones garnered some fan fare for bringing back and old-school look a few weeks ago when he pulled the bottoms of his pants up to knee-high. Of course, this only worked for Chipper with low-top shoes and he wasn't comfortable. So he returned to high-tops and, with those, had to bring the pants back down to ankle-length. (Atlanta-Journal Constitution )

ONLY IN THE SPRING, PART II: The Rays had a longest drive contest. Yes, with golf clubs. The four finalists were Johnny Damon, Cesar Ramos, Andy Sonnanstine and B.J. Upton. Who ya got? Go check it out, as there is video. (TampaBay.com )

SAY WHAT? Try to figure out this quote: "I don't ignore them because I've got to answer them. But I ignore them." That comes courtesy of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who is frustrated that the MLB Network questioned his team's outfield defense -- even though he apparently ignores them, or doesn't. Whatever. Any defensive metric you see says the outfield defense for the Cardinals will be pretty atrocious. Matt Holliday is fine in left field, though not spectacular. According to Fangraphs.com's ultimate zone rating, only two center fielders were worse than Colby Rasmus last year, who is certainly better suited for a corner spot. In right, they've got Lance Berkman, who was moved to first base in Houston due to becoming too slow for the outfield. He's 35 and hasn't been completely healthy for a full season 2008. To all this, La Russa would likely give the same response he did to MLB Network, "What do people know about our outfield defense?" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch )

TALKIN' BASEBALL: Willie, Mickey and the Duke. Those words were immortalized in Talkin' Baseball , a song written in 1981 by Terry Cashman. With the recent passing of the Duke, Cashman looks back on writing the song. (MLB.com )

STILL COOL CARLOS: While one Carlos on the Cubs sparred with a teammate over an error this spring, Carlos Zambrano has been a saint in Cubs camp. Tuesday, a defensive miscue allowed the leadoff man on base, but Zambrano never batted an eye. Of course, he won't say he's a changed man -- even though he said earlier in camp he was "cured" -- "Nah, I'm the same, bro," he told reporters. (Chicago Sun-Times ) Really, it's not just the spring, though. Zambrano has been a different man since re-entering the rotation last August 9. He went 8-0 with 1.41 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 11 starts and hasn't had an issue with teammates or management. The guy we're seeing this spring isn't just being good because it's spring. It's a carry over. Of course, with Zambrano, things could turn at any moment.

MEETING THE CHAMP: The White Sox met with Muhammad Ali and his Athletes for Hope foundation Tuesday. He was given a No. 40 jersey with the "Champ" on back, instead of Ali. (Chicago Tribune )

TAKE A BOTTLE, DRINK IT DOWN, PASS IT AROUND: One of the best pastimes of baseball -- for fans, that is -- is having a frothy cold one at the ballpark. Big League Stew breaks down the top 10 beers available at major-league ballparks. If you prefer a simple domestic macrobrew, well, there's something for you in every stadium.

BRADLEY HEARING WEDNESDAY: There will be a private hearing with Milton Bradley, his wife and the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office to attempt to resolve their differences without taking any charges to criminal court. Bradley was arrested for alleged domestic violence and threats against his wife last month. (Seattle Times )

 

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 6, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: March 6, 2011 11:35 am
 

Pepper: Phillie concern

Domonic Brown

By C. Trent Rosecrans

After nothing but (deserved) rave reviews this offseason, reality is hitting the Philadelphia Phillies.

Still the favorite in the National League East, the same problem that kept them in a division race last season is popping up again -- injuries.

Chase Utley is already getting cortisone shots and, as our own Danny Knobler wrote it perfectly, if the Phillies are concerned -- and they're saying they're concerned -- it's not a good sign.

And now Domonic Brown is out with a broken hamate bone in his hand. Although Brown was struggling this spring -- hitless in 15 at-bats -- and was likely headed to Triple-A, he was still part of the team's plans for 2011.

The hamate injury is a tricky one -- he'll likely be able to play this season, but he won't be the same. Last year when I was around the Reds a bit, I talked to two players who were in different stages of the same injury. One, Yonder Alonso, suffered the injury in 2009, the other, Chris Dickerson, had the surgery during last season.

Dickerson was able to return and even played with the Reds and Brewers after the surgery. Alonso had the surgery in June of 2009 and was back that season, as well. However, the injury saps power. Alonso told me several times that the ball just didn't jump off his bat the same, what would be a double in the past wasn't getting past outfielders, and what was a homer in the past just died in the outfield. As doctors told him, about a year fate the surgery, his power was back. 

Brown can return this season, but don't expect him to be the same player he has shown to be in the minor leagues and that he'll be in the future.

The Phillies are counting on Ben Francisco and Ross Gload to fill in for Jayson Werth until Brown is ready. Now they'll be counting on those two longer.

Pitching won't be a problem for Philadelphia, and it wasn't the problem last year. When the team got in trouble, it was injuries and offense. With uncertainly to the health of Utley and then general uncertainty with Jimmy Rollins, there's cause for concern in Philly.

That said, they're still the favorites, but maybe not quite the prohibitive favorites they were before.

STAYING PAT: The Yankees appear to be happy with the starters they have in camp -- CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova.

Brian Cashman tells the Boston Globe the team is unlikely to trade for a starter before opening day.

"Can't rule it out, but it's highly unlikely," Cashman said. "Normally anything of quality doesn't become available until after the June draft. That's why you try and get as much as you can get accomplished in winter."

HOT DOG RUN: Apparently because the team mom forgot the orange slices, after his stint in Saturday's game, Boston's Dustin Pedroia ducked out of the Red Sox clubhouse to the concession stand for three hot dogs.

"They probably didn't think he was a player," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters, including the Providence Journal. "Did you see that outfit he had on? He looks like he's going into second grade."

NATS OPTIMISM: A scout tells Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman (via Twitter) that Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann is "back." He's throwing 94-95 mph with a "superb" slider. Said the scout, "if they had [Stephen] Strasburg, they'd be dangerous."

The Nats don't, but Zimmermann offers hope for 2012, as he had Tommy John surgery in August of 2009, a year before Strasburg. 

AMBASSADOR GRIFFEY: Ken Griffey Jr.'s new job with the Mariners is to be an ambassador of sort, but before he does that, he served the same role for the U.S. State Department in the Philippines. 

Griffey just returned from working with coaches and youth players in the Philippines. 

USA Today's Paul White caught up with him last week before his trip. Griffey still refuses to talk about his exit from the game, but he'll likely be seen around the Mariners some this season. His new job requires about a month's worth of work with the team, doing a little bit of everything.

More importantly, he's being a dad. His daughter Taryn recently led Orlando's Dr. Phillips High School to the Florida girls basketball championship. Taryn Griffey, a freshman point guard, had 21 points in the championship game.

His son, Trey, is a junior safety and wide receiver who is being recruited, as well.

PIAZZA NOT BUYING Mets: Mike Piazza tells the New York Post he's interested in buying part of a baseball team "someday" but not now.

"I think everything is timing," Piazza said. "It's an interesting time in the game. There's a lot of change going on … but as far as anything on the forefront, there's nothing. Let's just say I talked to some people that are interested in getting into the game … It doesn't cost anything to talk. At least not yet."

NO PANIC FOR Braves: Atlanta's 23-year-old Craig Kimbrel has the inside track to replace Billy Wagner as the Braves' closer, but he's not been very good so far this spring. He's struggled with his command and has allowed four runs and six hits in three appearances this spring.

"If there is a trend like this later in the spring, then you start worrying about it," manager Fredi Gonzalez tells MLB.com. "But not right now."

CAIN FEELS BETTER: Giants pitcher Matt Cain played catch for about eight minutes on Saturday and felt no pain in his right elbow.

Cain was scratched from his last start and won't make his scheduled start on Tuesday, either. (MLB.com)

PIONEER LAID TO REST: About 500 people reportedly attended the funeral of Wally Yonamine in Hawaii on Saturday, according to Sanspo (via YakyuBaka.com). A memorial service will also be held in Tokyo later this month.

Yonamine, the first American to play professional baseball in Japan, died earlier this week at 85. The New York Times had a good obituary earlier this week, and a column in the Honolulu Star Advertiser shed light on how Yonamine dealt with death threats and other pressures when he started playing in Japan.

However, Yonamine became a star in Japan and was elected to the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. He was also the first Asian-American to play in the NFL.

NOT THAT IT'S GONNA HAPPEN: But contraction isn't going to happen.

Union chief Michael Weiner tells the St. Petersburg Times that the union will fight any attempt to contract teams.

"Having been in bargaining in baseball since the late 80s, anything is fathomable, so we don't either take anything for granted or rule anything out," Weiner said. "All I would says is if that changes, if contraction becomes a goal of the owners in this negotiation, the tenor of the talks would change quickly and dramatically."

Bud Selig tells the Los Angeles Times it's not a goal for the owners, and it's certainly not a fight they want to take up.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
More MLB coverage
Posted on: February 15, 2011 2:10 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2011 2:12 pm
 

Senate urging baseball to ban tobacco

DykstraThe pressure on baseball to outlaw tobacco has increased, with two Senate Democrats writing commissioner Bud Selig with a request to outlaw tobacco as Politico.com reports.

"We now know conclusively that smokeless tobacco endangers the health of baseball players who use it, but it also affects millions of young people who watch baseball," the letter to Selig and the MLB players' union reads. "The use of smokeless tobacco by baseball players undermines the positive image of the sport and sends a dangerous message to young fans, who may be influenced by the players they look up to as role models."

Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (Illinois) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (New Jersey) cited minor league baseball banning tobacco 30 years ago as all the more reason why baseball needs to ban the products at the major league level.

One problem with this is that changes at the minor league level do not need to be collectively bargained, while at the major league level, virtually all machinations -- even if technically not required -- tend to be bargained.

However, tobacco is well known to be linked to many different types of cancer, and smokeless tobacco causes cancers in the mouth and jaw. Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn recently quit dipping once he was diagnosed with cancer. In the letter, the senators revealed that tobacco-related products kill 443,000 Americans a year with 1,000 children per day becoming addicted.

In a separate letter, the senators hailed the efforts of Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg, who publicly quit his addiction to chewing tobacco.

"Your individual decision to quit smokeless tobacco, not only for your health, but to set a positive image for the young people who look up to you and watch baseball, is laudable," they wrote. "We want to encourage you to stick with it. Baseball fans will notice. Your example could prevent disease and disability and save a few lives."

-- Evan Brunell

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

Photo: Lenny Dykstra

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 10, 2011 4:31 pm
 

Strasburg throwing again

Stephen Strasburg Stephen Strasburg has reached a significant milestone in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, throwing for the first time, the Washington Post 's Adam Kilgore writes .
"He told me that he tossed a ball, that he was really excited," Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty said today in a phone interview. "I just kind of laughed. He was so excited to be able to toss a ball. I'm not sure what the process is, because it can vary. But I know he tossed a ball. It was a very short distance. He was very happy."
Kilgore notes Strasburg is still on track for the normal 12- to 18-month return from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent on Sept. 3.

Strasburg will join his teammates in spring training and play soft toss, McCatty said. The pitching coach will be forced to try to slow Strasburg down, he said.

Some pitchers have returned in less than 12 months, but expect the Nationals to be cautious in their handling of Strasburg's recovery. To rush him would be foolish.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Strasburg talks rehab


Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg, a San Diego State alumnus, stopped by the CBS College Sports telecast of the unbeaten Aztecs' game Wednesday against UNLV. He talked with Ted Robinson about his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery and his charitable efforts in the San Diego area.

"It's doing great," he said. "I'm well into the rehab process, got another three or four weeks until I start throwing, and I'm definitely in the best shape of my life."

Check it out:


-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 16, 2010 2:19 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2010 3:49 pm
 

Top 10 baseball storylines from 2010

Honorable Mention CBSSports.com will be revealing its Top 10 Stories of the 2010 season next week, but here at MLB Facts and Rumors we're going to reveal our own Top 10 list, sans the storylines that will be appearing on the overall list.

Here's the top storylines from the 2010 season that didn't make the cut:

  10. Felix Hernandez wins AL Cy Young
The Mariners ace ran away with the Cy Young Award after posting a 2.27 ERA (3.26 xFIP), whiffing 232 in 249 2/3 innings and walking just 70 batters and posting a 13-12 record.

Wait, what?

Yup -- a starting pitcher won the Cy Young with a 13-12 record. Now, there have been past winners who had shoddy records, but in light of Zack Greinke's victory in 2009 with "just" a 16-8 record, it's clear that wins are being marginalized -- and that's a good thing.

Hernandez The majority of GMs and front-office executives understand the fallacy of judging a pitcher's performance on wins. After all, for a pitcher to get a win, the offense and defense play important parts -- and one could argue the offense plays a more important role. Hernandez was clearly the best pitcher in the league (although CC Sabathia did get short shrift) and deserves the award, but could you have seen this coming just five years ago?

Nope. We're in the middle of a seismic shift where advanced statistics are starting to take hold in mainstream media -- for the better. While the statistics used in the sabermetric community (such as xFIP, which is quoted often in this blog) will always be ahead of mainstream media, the mere fact one can find national writers quoting ERA+ is a positive.

  9. End of an era for legendary managers
Four managers with impressive pedigrees saw their managerial careers come to an end (well -- for now).

In Toronto, Cito Gaston ended his return to the managerial ranks by guiding the team to a 85-77 record. Of course, Gaston will be remembered more for his original stint as a Blue Jay where he won back-to-back World Series titles.

Cox Lou Piniella was another to exit stage left, stepping down near the end of yet another disappointing season as Cubs skipper. Piniella takes with him a 116-win season (2001 Mariners) and World Series ring (1990 Reds) along with 1,835 victories.

Joe Torre joins Piniella as another ex-Yankees manager who retired. After Torre bounced around from the Mets to Braves to Cardinals, he landed with the Yankees with almost 15 years experience and then turned into a star. He won four titles in five seasons and remained in New York for 12 years. He just finished up a three-year stint with the Dodgers that saw him win an additional two division titles and retire with 2,326 victories.

Last, but definitely not least, is Bobby Cox (pictured). Cox managed the Braves for 25 years from 1978-81 and then again from 1990-2010. In between, he managed the Blue Jays and served as Atlanta's general manager. Cox had just three losing seasons as Braves manager, going 40-57 in 1990, 79-83 in 2006 and 72-90 in 2008. He oversaw the vaunted trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz and won 100-plus games five times, capturing his World Series ring in 1995. All told, he won 2,504 games and lost 2,001.

  8. Chase for Triple Crown
At one point during the season, a Triple Crown was a distinct possibility in both the AL and NL. Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera had a showdown in the AL, but Hamilton's missing most of September cut short any possibility of winning the Triple Crown. Hamilton beat Cabrera in batting average, .359 to .328, but Miggy bested Hamilton with 38 homers to the Ranger's 32. (Jose Bautista pulled away from the field with 54 home runs, but this was a lot closer in July and August than it ended up being.) Cabrera overcame Bautista to win the RBI title with 126 ribbies, and Hamilton was 12th with 100 RBI on the nose.

Pujols The NL was a lot more closer with the combatants as Joey Votto and Albert Pujols (pictured). Pujols ended up with 118 RBI, Votto 113 -- but the reigning NL MVP beat Pujols in batting average with a .324 mark as compared to Phat Albert's .312. (Carlos Gonzalez won the title with a .336 mark.) Ah, but Pujols walked away the home-run king with 42 bombs, Votto cranking 37.

  7. Rookies of the Year
In the AL, two rookies grabbed everyone's attention with center fielder Austin Jackson flourishing in Detroit and Neftali Feliz notching 40 saves. A slow start derailed Brian Matusz's hype in Baltimore, but by the end of the year it was looking like he could be the ace many had predicted him to be.

The real story was in the NL, where there was a plethora of candidates in Buster Posey, Ike Davis, Mike Leake, Stephen Strasburg, Jason Heyward, Madison Bumgarner, Ian Desmond, David Freese, Mike Stanton, Travis Wood, Pedro Alvarez, Aroldis Chapman, Starlin Castro, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Jose Tabata, Jon Niese...

Yep, there was a bona fide youth movement in the NL this year, and it should be one fun league to watch over the next few seasons. In any other given year, at least five, if not more, could have won Rookie of the Year awards. But they didn't.

Posey So, who actually got the Rookie of the Year Awards?

The AL honor went to Feliz for his 40 saves in 69 1/3 innings, punching out 71 and walking 18. He has the potential to be a stud closer for years... or could be moved back to the rotation. Your move, Texas.

In the NL, Buster Posey (pictured) whisked the award away from Jason Heyward with a .305/.357/.505 line in 443 plate appearances, bashing 18 home runs and leading the Giants to the World Series. Nah, he didn't set any expectations for himself.

  6. Dodger Divorce
This storyline isn't quite over, but 2010 saw the sordid trial and subsequent decision by the judge that both Frank and Jamie McCourt own the Dodgers. Whether or not this pushes the team to sell isn't known yet, but this was a divorce that captured the hearts of tabloids and overshadowed the constant Hollywood marital troubles that plague movie celebrities.

At the crux of the issue were two separate agreements that detailed either Frank (pictured below left) possessing sole ownership of the club, or both. Frank's lawyer admitted he made changed to the marital agreement without notifying Jamie or her representatives that gave Frank sole ownership.

With the agreement nullified, Frank is pursuing other avenues to be declared the sole owner while Jamie and representatives say that the Dodgers must be treated like community property. While there's still more battles to be had, the war is over: both McCourts own the team and it's difficult to fathom both co-existing, which will lead to the team's sale.

 
McCourt 5. Year of the Pitcher
Six no-hitters were thrown in 2010, a remarkable achievement. Only two other times were six no-hitters thrown, and that's not including the Perfect Game That Wasn't in Armando Galarraga's perfecto.

Ubaldo Jimenez tossed the first no-hitter in Rockies franchise history against the Braves on April 17 to get the no-nos started. Matt Garza also tossed a franchise-first no-hitter, doing so for the Rays vs. the Tigers on July 26, the final no-hitter of the regular season.

Dallas Braden then followed that up with a perfect game against the Rays on May 9th, adding a nice little wrinkle to the earlier flap with Alex Rodriguez, when he yelled at the third baseman to "get off my mound." Rodriguez responded in Pedro Martinez form , asking just who the heck Braden was. Cue perfect game. Now people know who Braden is.

New Phillie Roy Halladay (pictured) followed in Braden's footsteps 20 days later, pitching perfect against the Marlins May 29.

Edwin Jackson joined in on the fun June 25th, throwing an incredible 149 pitches to notch a no-no for the Diamondbacks.

Lastly, Halladay did perhaps the most impressive feat of all, blanking the Reds in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on October 6. It's the second no-hitter to be thrown in the postseason, behind Don Larsen's perfecto in 1956. He was one walk in the 5th away from a second perfect game.

Halladay That wasn't all that made the year all about pitchers, however. Fifteen hurlers tied the all-time record for most pitchers with at least 200 strikeouts, paced by Jered Weaver's 233 whiffs.

  4. George Steinbrenner passes
Steinbrenner was someone who loomed over baseball from Day One upon his acquisition of the Yankees in 1973. Brash and loud, Steinbrenner wouldn't accept any form of losing and while New York won two World Series in 1976-77 and appeared in two others in 1976 and 1981, New York quickly fell into obscurity as Steinbrenner's demands weren't the way a club should be run.

His overturn of management personnel was rough as well, as 20 managers served under his watch over his first 23 seasons, Billy Martin the poster boy for this overturn. Steinbrenner was also suspended for 15 months after the 1974 season for illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon. It wouldn't be his last suspension.

Despite this, however, the Yankees reinvigorated a brand that had been dormant for a decade. Then, the best thing that could have happened to New York did with King George's second suspension, handed out for paying a gambler for trying to dig up information on star Dave Winfield, whom Steinbrenner had made the highest-paid player in baseball history at the time before clashing with the Hall of Famer.

This allowed Gene Michael, the GM, to take over day-to-day Yankees business and upon Steinbrenner's reinstatement in 1993, he was more willing to be hands off -- as hands off as he could be, anyways.

This shift led the Yankees to their glory years behind Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, and so on. The Yankees captured four World Series in a five-year span, three straight from 1998-2000. They would continue to be the face of baseball throughout the beginning of the 21st century and captured another World Series in 2009, the last postseason Steinbrenner would see.

Steinbrenner The Boss passed on the morning of the 2010 All-Star Game, July 13. With that, the Yankees lost perhaps their most influential and important owner in franchise history (although one could make a case for Jacob Ruppert ).

  3. Cliff Lee Watch
On MLB Facts and Rumors, Cliff Lee has been written more than any other player -- and team. The Cliff Lee tag beats out the Diamondbacks, Pirates, Orioles, Rockies, Padres, Blue Jays, Tigers, Brewers, Royals, Angels, Athletics, Astros and Indians. That's a lot.

That's not all, however. There's also a Cliff Lee Watch tag, detailing his adventures through trades and free agency. What does that top? Well, Derek Jeter for one. Only Adam Dunn, Stephen Strasburg and Lee himself are the only players that top that tag. Yep, that means Derek Jeter, Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton... they've all been written about less than Lee's nomadic career.

Wow.

Lee is truly a journalist's dream, with the specter of free agency and constant trades keeping Lee at the forefront of the news. First Lee was dealt to the Phillies, and their push to the World Series provided plenty of fodder. Then you had Lee being traded to the Mariners and the head-scratching element of Philly turning around and acquiring Roy Halladay.

Lee Then the Mariners flailed, and Lee was in a tug of war between the Rangers and Yankees. With Texas, he advanced to the World Series yet again, but hit free agency and we all know how that turned out.

Lee has been a big part of baseball coverage the last two years, and especially this year as he went from the Phillies to Mariners to Rangers and back to Philadelphia. I've never quite seen a player sustain coverage this long in so many different ways.

  2. Strasmas
Cliff Lee may have dominated the off-the-field storylines, but Stephen Strasburg was a phenom on the field. He rocketed through the minors, with each of his farm starts must-see status.

Then: his debut.

Seven innings, two earned runs, no walks, 14 strikeouts -- and a whole lot of Nationals fans grinning ear to ear. He reached 100 mph on two pitches, and 34 of 94 pitches broke the 98-mph barrier.

It didn't stop there, as Strasmas blew through city after city, leaving shell-shocked players in its wake as Strasburg racked up 92 strikeouts in 68 innings over 12 starts. He posted a 2.91 ERA while walking just 17 and was an instant ace. Even a disabled-list stint in July for shoulder inflammation wasn't enough to curb the hype.

Until August 21.

Strasburg Then, Tommy John surgery showed up in Strasburg's stocking as a big lump of coal.

Strasburg was one of the most hyped pitchers of all time (David Clyde 's got nothing on this guy) and delivered with TJ surgery providing the rock bottom. And all the while, tons of ink was devoted to Strasburg. In fact, Strasburg was the most-written about player on MLB Facts and Rumors until Lee got sent to Texas.

  1. Jim Joyce blows Armando Galarraga's perfect game
What more can one say about this?

It was a brutal reminder to all that baseball simply needs instant replay. In this day and age, an "aw shucks, I messed up" isn't enough. Fans want to know that what they see on the field is legitimate. How many times do you hear about the 1985 World Series-winning Royals without the name Jorge Orta added?

How about the 1996 Yankees, who have to tote around Jeffrey Maier as part of its legacy?
Galarraga and Joyce
Imagine what would have happened in the 2004 ALCS had the original call of Mark Bellhorn's double had been upheld, as well as Alex Rodriguez's purse-slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove?

Give Joyce credit for owning up to blowing the call and being genuinely bothered by the fact Armando Galarraga lost his shot at history on a blown call.

Give credit too, for Galarraga and the Tigers for being incredibly gracious. The actions of the two involved defused what could have been a powder-keg situation. (Just look at the picture -- talk about reconciliation.)

That doesn't change what happened, though. And what happened was this: Armando Galarraga lost a perfecto on the final out of the game in which there is irrefutable proof that the batter was out.

In the Year of the Pitcher with Lee and Strasburg as the most-talked about players and amidst the slow advent (and inevitable arrival) of expanded instant replay, it's perhaps fitting that this storyline heads the list of top storylines of the baseball season that did not make the all-inclusive Top 10 sports list, due to run on CBSSports.com next week.

-- Evan Brunell

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


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com