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Inside Baseball MLB Notes | Dodgers righting ship

Jon Heyman



Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Inside Baseball from Jon Heyman brings you news, notes, rumors and more from all 30 MLB teams. For the latest on rising interest — along with a rising price — in Manny Machado on the trade market, click here.

And now, around the majors…

Arizona Diamondbacks

— Matt Koch has been a Godsend. But they will likely need to get a starter.

— The D-Backs have had such wild swings they looked like a potential seller for a few minutes there. Now they are back in first.

— Alek Thomas, the lefty-swinging OF from Mt. Carmel (Chicago) High School picked in the second round, is the son of White Sox strength coach Allen Thomas.

Tommy Stokke has a theory on @LockedOnMLB about Paul Goldschmidt’s surprisingly slow start.

— The D-backs added well-traveled outfielder Jon Jay on Wednesday in exchange for LHP Gabe Speier and RHP Elvis Luciano.

— Jay’s addition is a start in addressing the D-backs’ offensive and defensive woes.

Atlanta Braves

— The exciting, first-place Braves are taking a wait-and-see approach to the trade deadline; they will wait to see where they stand and what they need. Right now, they seem to believe it’s 1) a reliever and 2) a starter, perhaps in that order. Third base is what others figure they’ll need. One scout said they’d be downright dangerous if they were to acquire a closer. But they also want to see how their young starting pitchers hold up before jumping into the relief market first.

— The young players are definitely responding to manager Brian Snitker.

— Charlie Culberson’s two walk-off homers in a week could be yet another positive sign.

— The Braves are going to play it cautiously with wunderkind Ronald Acuña Jr., whose back was still said to be sore. He also hyperextended his knee on the play but seems to be fortunate not to have sustained any serious injury.

The Braves have been perhaps the biggest of several surprises this season.

— Aaron Blair was released. The deal to trade Shelby Miller still looks like a winner since Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte came in that deal as well.

— Mike Soroka could be back in one or two starts. June 16, suggested Mark Bowman of

— Mike Foltynewicz is one of the more improved pitchers in the majors.

— Congrats to John Smoltz of MLB Network and FOX Sports, who qualified for the Senior PGA Open. Smoltz shot a 69 to tie with two others for the final spot, then made it to the final two when he and one other birdied the first extra hole. On the second extra hole, Smoltz hit one into the water out of a bunker but his double-bogey won by one. He told me he was never more nervous competing in an event. Judging by his clutch pitching performances, who knew he ever got nervous?

— Tim Salmon, who was originally drafted by the Braves and often compared to Dale Murphy, finally met Murphy at the MLB draft. “What a day.” @TimSalmon15 tweeted.

Baltimore Orioles

Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun had a story with Cal Ripken Jr., who recalls what it’s like to be on baseball’s worst team. Of course, the Orioles in 1988 were by far the worst; these Orioles are just in the mix for that dishonor.

— Zach Britton should be back on June 15, Buck Showalter said. That should give him enough time to build some trade value.

— It was a mild surprise when the Orioles passed on Brady Singer, Luke Winn, Matthew Liberatore and Shane McClanahan to take Grayson Rodriguez with their first pick, and he has agreed to a slightly under-slot deal.

— Catcher Austin Wynns was called up. Nothing the O’s need more than wins (sorry!)

— Darren O’Day could be back Thursday.

— Colby Rasmus is playing rehab games.

Boston Red Sox

— Rookie manager Alex Cora is receiving his biggest early test with MVP candidate Mookie Betts out and Dustin Pedroia having to go back on the DL.

— With Drew Pomeranz also on the DL, Steven Wright’s impressive seven-inning return felt much needed.

— The Red Sox are considering Kelvin Herrera, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. They are far from the only ones. Hererra will be one of the most coveted players at the deadline.

— MLB folks are a little nervous about the Home Run Derby after Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez both suggested they aren’t going to compete (via @PeteAbe). With the belief that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton also are not competing this year (both were fantastic in the derby last year) and Bryce Harper and Mike Trout never having entered the derby, it could lack a little cachet. One MLB person wondered if their top two entrants could be Shohei Ohtani and Vlad Guerrero Jr. He was kidding. While pitchers have suggested they’d like to do it (i.e. Madison Bumgarner), MLB might not want to risk injury to a pitcher who’s doing something he’s not used to doing (though that doesn’t really apply to the two-way star Ohtani). On the bright side, Harper has previously stated he’d consider it this year, as the game is being played in his home park.

— Martinez argued against fans voting for the All-Star team and for players voting, noting how he’s usually been overlooked. (Me: The fan voting system isn’t perfect, but the fans do well enough that there’s no reason to change.)

— The Red Sox went for power with their first two picks, taking Triston Casas from American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) High in the first round and Nick Decker in the second. Casas is from the same high school as Eric Hosmer.

— A million other theories besides the vesting option have been thrown out as excuses for why the Red Sox cut Hanley Ramirez. That’s when you know it was probably the vesting option. (At the very least, it was on their mind).

— Pete Abraham tweeted that the Red Sox spent $254 million on Rusney Castillo, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez only to get a 0.9 WAR total from them (though they still have Castillo, he remains in the minors, seemingly indefinitely).

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs

— The return of Jake Arrieta was reason for more discussion about whether the Cubs made the right call to go for Yu Darvish over Arrieta. The Cubs did make a last-minute call to Arrieta, mentioning a deal that they knew he’d turn down, as first reported twice by FRS Sports, here the first time and here a second.

— Meantime, Jon Lester had a 1.94 ERA over seven starts.

— The Cubs’ 5.29 runs per game leads the majors. That’s despite being one of the worst at hitting with runners in scoring position, (h/t Len Kasper).

— Albert Almora is another Cubs No. 1 draft choice developing nicely. Almora also did a nice fake bat break over his knee following a strikeout. (That’s much smarter than the actual bat break.)

Chicago White Sox

— James Shields, who has lasted at least six innings eight straight starts, should make a real candidate for trade thanks to better pitching of late. The return won’t be enormous, but he’ll be coveted by some considering the paucity of viable starters expected to be available.

— Carlos Rodon is expected back this weekend, reports Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Blake Rutherford is trying to emulate his hero Christian Yelich, writes James Fegan of The Athletic.

— Nick Madrigal was a nice pick at No. 4. Most mocks had the Phillies taking him at No. 3. Madrigal is only 5-foot-7, but with Joe Altuve, Ozzie Albies and Jose Ramirez starring, height discrimination no longer exists.

— Yoan Moncada’s immense talents are more evident every day.

— Luis Robert, who may be even more talented, is back playing.

Cincinnati Reds

— Homer Bailey went from the rotation to the bullpen to the disabled list. That $100 million contract will rank as one of the all-time worst, especially for a small-market club. They’ve had some bad ones (also Brandon Phillips).

— Phillips actually wasn’t that bad last year, but folks suggest his frequent complaints may have ended his career. He even once complained about his $86 million contract not being big enough, at least compared to that of teammate Joey Votto (this wasn’t a good complaint to make in Cincinnati, where most people make less than $86 million).

— Anthony DeSclafani is back.

Cleveland Indians

— Andrew Miler (knee) is making progress toward a return, reports Jordan Bastion of Of course, they need to be careful because he’s a guy who doesn’t like to miss time and will want to get back as quickly as he can.

— The Indians need pen reinforcements, and they are hoping just-signed vets Oliver Perez and/or George Kontos help a bit.

— Michael Brantley has his hitting magic back, with an 18-game hit streak.

— Bradley Zimmer, who’s had a lot of swings and misses this year, was sent down to make room for Lonnie Chisenhall.

— The Indians picked Noah Naylor, a catcher from Ontario, Canada among their early choices in the draft. He is the brother of Josh, the Padres’ hitting prospect.

— Edwin Encarnacion is heating up.

Colorado Rockies

— Kyle Freeland, Denver native, has figured out how to pitch at Coos Field. He joins Jorge De La Rosa as a pitcher who thrived in the impossible environment.

— Carlos Gonzalez hit a 473-foot home run and it wasn’t even at Coors. It was at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

Brendan Rodgers, the No. 3 overall pick in 2015, is on the “fast track” to the majors by learning multiple positions, via The Athletic.

— The Rockies did the best of any team in the draft, opines one rival scout. The Rockies’ new regime kept long-time scouting director Billy Schmidt.

Nick Groke of The Athletic wrote about how the Rockies don’t “fear the curveball,” anymore, leading to their selection of breaking ball specialist Ryan Rollison of Ole Miss in the first round.

— Poor David Dahl has suffered yet another injury.

Detroit Tigers

— The Tigers played it “safe” by taking the one everyone expected them to take, Casey Mize, a right-handed pitcher from Auburn, at No. 1 overall. But the consensus seems to be that they also made the right pick. While some saw him as a mid-rotation starter, he has a four-pitch repertoire with amazing control and a seemingly great outlook. A scout said in this space a few weeks back that Tigers people “should all be fired” if they didn’t take Mize.

— OF Parker Meadows, their second-rounder, is the brother of Austin Meadows, and his standing could not have been hurt by Meadows’ nice start with the Pirates. He is exceedingly talented in his own right.

— Kody Clemens, the fourth son of Roger, and a University of Texas product like his famous dad who was almost a Hall of Famer, seems to have the highest ceiling of all the Clemens kids.

— Seems like a great draft by the Tigers. But you never know. These draft rankings are interesting. But baseball is even more difficult to predict than football or basketball. “Who knows?” opines one rival GM. “It’ll take three or four years to have an idea who won.” It was the Tigers who had the greatest draft ever, drafting Jack Morris, Alan Trammell and Ozzie Smith all in the same year (though they didn’t sign Smith).

Mike Fiers needs to take a break, to think about his role in the dispute with Giancarlo Stanton, and truly understand it.

— Christin Stewart is tearing it up at Triple-A Toledo, and has 13 home runs. But some of the top pitching prospects have only been OK. Franklin Perez has yet to pitch.

Houston Astros

Justin Verlander’s run of dominance since he’s gone to Houston might be “the best we’ve ever seen,” writes Emma Baccellieri on And she has proof. His 1.19 ERA over 121 innings is good for a 329 ERA plus – yes, that’s right, he’s been more than three times better than the average pitcher. Corey Kluber is the only other pitcher below 2.00.  How did he get there? Well, his .202 on-base percentage against is not only the best in the game, but so is his 93 percent LOB percentage.

— Verlander told Jon Morosi of MLB Network that he hoped to pitch until he’s 45. Only 10 more years? That would be a shame. Anyway, hard to doubt him at this point.

— Charlie Morton told JP Morosi of MLB Network that this could be his last year. That would be unusual considering the big pay day that would seem to be just around the corner.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals

— The Royals seemingly got a gift when University of Florida star pitcher Brady Singer was there for them at No. 18. Based on the mocks, he seemed like a sure thing to go in the top-10. It will help that they have the highest draft pool, at $12.8M.

— The Royals wound up drafting five college pitchers among the first 55 picks, and if they drafted well, that’ll be a big help.

— Kelvin Herrera is going to have huge trade value on the market. He’d help any contender.

— Their second pick was Singer’s Gators teammate Jackson Kowar.

— The Royals are shifting more than anyone this year. But that isn’t the cause of their rough start.

— The Royals’ signing of Jon Jay at a reasonable rate paid off; he was dealt to Arizona for two prospects.

Los Angeles Angels

— Some are now touting Gleyber Torres for Rookie of the Year. But I don’t see how anyone could go against Shohei Ohtani. He’s doing things that have never been done in MLB.

— Andrew Heaney celebrated his 27th birthday with 27 outs – and one hit and one walk – as MLB pointed out on Twitter.

— Griffin Caning has a 1.35 ERA in the minors.

The video of Angels draftee Jordyn Adams dunking is ridiculous. The OF from Cary, N.C. gave up a Tar Heels football scholarship to choose baseball (he was ticketed to play wide receiver). Presumably, he must have a deal (or else he needs help with his negotiating skills).

— It might be no surprise the Angels have drafted athletic outfielders with two recent top picks. They used a No. 2 pick on Brandon Marsh two years ago, and after missing a year with a stress fracture in his back, Marsh is dominating, with a .350 batting average and .944 OPS.

Los Angeles Dodgers

— The Dodgers were all the way back to .500 for the first time since April 24 (h/t Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times) and looking like a threat to win their sixth straight division title.

— Matt Kemp, NL Player of the Week, has been a revelation. Kemp had a .344 batting average and .942 OPS and looked every bit like a candidate to make the All-Star team.

— The second surprise has been Max Muncy, who seems to have come out of nowhere.

— Manager Dave Roberts deserves some credit for righting the ship. There are 100 games to go, and no one would be surprised at this point if the Dodgers won the division again.

— Clayton Kershaw’s opt-out seems like (a little) less than a sure thing after he landed back on the DL with back trouble.

— Since April 30, Cody Bellinger has a slash line of .168/.252/.358. But Roberts says it’s too early to discuss a possible demotion. “We’re not there yet.”

— Tommy Lasorda represented the Dodgers at the draft, and Lasorda, 91, says his goal is to make it to 100. “The first 90 were the hardest,” he said.

— Jim Salisbury of Comcast Philly related this. “Overheard in the Dodgers press box. ‘I’m definitely getting a veggie Dodger Dog tonight.’” As Salisbury noted, “What the heck has happened to ball writin’?”

Miami Marlins

— The Marlins seriously discussed a trade that would have brought Mike Fiers from the Astros at the deadline in 2016, but after Marlins superstar Giancarlo Stanton told club decision-makers he preferred Fiers not to be a Marlin, the team went in other directions.

— Kyle Barraclough was the team’s new closer.

— Meanwhile, Brad Ziegler’s struggles have probably ended any hope to use him as trade bait, at least for the moment.

— Osiris Johnson, a California high school shortstop and a cousin of Jimmy Rollins, was their second-round pick.

— Rookie Lewis Brinson has been kept up despite bad struggles as the team prefers him to stay with hitting experts Don Mattingly, Tim Wallach and Mike Pagliarulo.

— Justin Bour gave a Twitter shoutout to all the draftees, noting that they should “keep grinding” and reminding folks he was “pick No. 770” in the 2009 draft.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald did a story on the Marlins’ free-agent woes in recent years, from Martin Prado to Wei-Yin Chen, from Jeff Locke to Brad Ziegler to Junichi Tazawa.

The beloved longtime Marlins scout Orrin Freeman needs your help.

— The Marlins are celebrating their 25th anniversary season this weekend. Many ex-Marlins will be on hand, including MLB Network analysts Cliff Floyd and Mike Lowell, Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine (who left the Marlins after his salary was cut by about 75 percent and was let go as broadcaster), Alex Fernandez, Edgar Renteria (who had a big hit) and others.

— No. 13 overall pick Conor Scott, an outfielder from baseball powerhouse Plant High in Tampa, received a call from his idol Derek Jeter, who welcomed him to the organization. Scott had delayed interviews until agreeing to a deal, so he obviously has one now, as Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald writes. Scott, coincidentally, has the same agent that repped Jeter, Casey Close.

Milwaukee Brewers

— The Brewers seem to have a gold touch. Erik Kratz, journeyman catcher, was 6-for-12 with two homers to start.

— Zach Davies is on the DL with rotator cuff inflammation, which should push the Brewers to add that starter they so far have resisted to add.

— Ji-Man Choi, who’s hit when given the chance and had a monster spring, was up.

— Micah Bello, a high school outfielder from Hawaii, and a second-rounder, announced immediately he intends to sign. So hopefully he has a deal. Either that or he may need to work on his negotiation skills.

Minnesota Twins

— Ervin Santana, who’s miraculously pitched through a UCL issue his whole career, was sidelined with one of the more troublesome finger injuries we’ve seen. But there’s apparently good news now. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press suggested he’s getting closer.

— The hits just keep coming. Byron Buxton’s broken toe landed him back on the DL.

— Eddie Rosario showed once again that he loves the big stage. His three-homer performance gave them a nice highlight in a rough patch.

New York Mets

— New Mets manager Mickey Callaway took heat when he said “It’s a tough place to play.” He was slapped around by the New York media after that comment. We won’t say much here. But we will note: The team eight miles to the north has 27 world titles.

— Meanwhile, Callaway called two team meetings during the team’s dreadful week. Apparently, neither worked.

— The Mets lost six straight at home for the second time this year (then made it seven). Keith Hernandez tweeted that he’s at a low point.

— Yoenis Cespedes, who’s “vital,” in the word of one Mets person, is now taking live at-bats and is “on the brink” of returning. Their righty hitters being out (Jay Bruce, too, and Juan Lagares) has been a killer.

— Bruce, an all-time standup guy, met the media for 15 minutes to discuss his slump, via SNY.

— Also slumping were the previously hot Brandon Nimmo and Asdrubal Cabrera.

— The Mets gave GM Sandy Alderson an extension in late 2017 with his contract about to expire without revealing how long his new contract lasted. But FRS Sports learned that Alderson’s deal was a multi-year arrangement – for two years that keeps him as Mets GM through 2019.

— The Mets went to an unusual spot for the No. 6 pick overall, tabbing OF Jarred Kelenic from Waukesha (Wis.) West High, one of the few cold-weather-area players taken in the first round (Florida and the rest of the South dominated even more than usual). But the Mets have done that with success before. Brandon Nimmo is the first prep player ever to come out of Wyoming. Kelenic did some training with NFL great J.J. Watt.

— Some are suggesting his unproductive Mets teammates are hurting Jacob deGrom’s Cy Young chances. But that isn’t really true. While the pen keeps blowing deGrom’s leads, writers do not use win-loss record as any sort of measuring stick anymore. And that has been true since Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young award with 13 victories. deGrom, incidentally, is 4-0 – not that the record matters. He’s behind Max Scherzer, but only because Scherzer has slightly out-pitched him.

— There’s been chatter in New York among fans (and maybe some radio guys) about the Mets trading deGrom to the Yankees. As if this would ever happen.

— Alderson, in fact, told Bob Nightengale of USA Today in an interesting interview that the chances for any selloff at all are “remote.”

— One of the Mets’ new P.A. announcers is Howard Cosell’s grandson Colin Cosell. He promises to have an interesting comment about Frazier (One of his grandfather’s most popular calls was “Down goes Frazier.”)

They are holding a Shannon Forde tournament on Shannon Forde Field, which was built to honor the late Forde, a beloved Mets P.R. executive who lost her battle with cancer.

New York Yankees

— Gleyber Torres continues to amaze. He has 10 home runs. He never hit more than 11 in the minors.

— Miguel Andujar may be overshadowed (slightly) at the moment. But he has 29 extra-base hits and is batting .305 (both first among rookies).

— The Yankees took catchers with their top two picks, taking Anthony Seigler, a switch hitter (and switch pitcher) first, then Josh Breaux. Danny Knobler of Bleacher Report had a nice story on Seigler.

— The occasional call-ups of Clint Frazier feel like showcases. He seems like little more than talented trade bait with the Yankees.

— Jordan Montgomery rehabbed six weeks but ultimately decided he needed Tommy John surgery, which only heightens the Yankees’ need for a starting pitcher.

— It’s always great fun to hang near Pedro Martinez, and when Mike Fiers hit Giancarlo Stanton I could hear Pedro from behind me. “Hit someone!” he bellowed with a smile.

— Longtime agent David Sloane had a funny interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today in which he said he was quitting the business over $33,000 in lost fees representing Yankees prospect Justus Sheffield and what he called a “sewer” of a business. He lamented not being as successful as many even though he proclaimed that he is about the best there was. That sure sounded like Sloane, whose temperament was never right for a tough and competitive profession. As Jeff Passan’s tweet suggested, he did not handle things well. I, too, had some memorable run-ins that didn’t have to be run-ins with him. He should have just realized he was fortunate that such a great player as Carlos Delgado was loyal to him, giving him a living, instead of complaining that he had trouble getting more clients. It’s obvious to all of us why he didn’t have clients: an obvious personality deficit. Hopefully, he will find peace in retirement.

— The Yankees at one point were in the unusual spot of being in first place, but half-a-game out. They led by virtue of a better winning percentage (.685 to .678) but trailed because the Red Sox had played more games and were one game more over .500.

— It made no sense for the Yankees to have to play three games in 27 hours in two different cities, so it’s a good thing MLB over-ruled ESPN and didn’t make the Yankees do that. What’s funny is that some Mets people were annoyed about the ruling. They saw it as this: Yankees privilege.

— The Yankees had threatened to halt interviews with ESPN over the dispute. Hopefully, they still go ahead with that boycott (kidding).

— The Yankees began 9-9, and are 30-9 since (h/t Eric Boland, Newsday).

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland A’s

— The A’s took University of Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray, the heir apparent to Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, with the ninth overall selection in what might be the most interesting call of the draft. The baseball vs. football call is always interesting, but any concerns should be assuaged now that he’s signed a deal. That likely means it’ll be just one more season with the Sooners. 

— Murray’s deal is quite unusual, as it allows him to honor his commitment to Oklahoma and play next season as the possible heir to Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. The deal seems to suggest he will concentrate on baseball after one season as Oklahoma’s QB, which explains why Oakland was willing to guarantee close to $5M. The deal was first reported by FRS Baseball.

— If he had any doubts, he can consult Justin Verlander’s twitter account, which advised him, based on former Notre Dame football star Jeff Samardzija’s career earnings, that baseball is the way to go.

— Kendall Graveman had a forearm strain, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

— Amazingly, Edwin Jackson is still going after signing a minors deal with the A’s.

— The A’s selected Austin Piscotty, brother of Stephen, in the 38th round. He’s an OF from St. Mary’s (Calif.).

Philadelphia Phillies

— The Phillies can’t complain about Jake Arrieta’s candor. Because they knew him from the start, and they know he isn’t a guy to let things go. He didn’t. And they didn’t complain – at least not publicly. Arrieta seemed to have a point about the team’s shifting foibles (they were allowing the second-worst .277 batting average on grounders against the shift; .224 is league average according to MLB Network). Arrieta was obviously frustrated off a weekend where he knocked in the Phillies’ only run. But that doesn’t make him wrong. And manager Gabe Kapler seemed to acknowledge there are flaws, telling Jon Morosi of MLB Network, “I don’t think we have shifts figured out. I don’t think anyone has them nailed down. Jake’s comments are true – we didn’t play well. And we can be better. It’s a good opportunity for us to sit down and discuss our team.” Kapler has made a nice comeback from that rough first few games of his, but the reality is that – for the moment, at least – Arrieta is the one with the power in the organization. He’s a star free agent performing well with a big personality. And it’s no time to disagree with him. In any case, he was right.

— The offense hasn’t been so great either. Over five games it was .205/.268/.339.

— The Phillies are much improved. But how much better would they be with Charlie Morton? They had a $9 million option on him for 2017, and after polling coaches as to whether they were in favor of keeping him, and the coaches voting to keep him, the Phillies still decided against picking up that option. $9M probably seemed a tad high considering the injury history, but oops.

— Rhys Hoskins may not be out as long as expected after that freak injury where he suffered a fractured jaw while fouling the ball off his face.

— Hoskins was replaced on the active list by Dylan Cozens, who was putting up comparable numbers through the minors with Hoskins.

— Odubel Herrera is a wonderful player, but he has a knack for annoying the competition. He has quietly slipped, from .360 to .303.

— Scott Kingery has struggled enough that one rival GM wondered whether he’d be a candidate to be sent down (-0.9 WAR) if he hadn’t signed the long deal (for $26 million) in spring training – though at the moment they need him at shortstop.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Ron Cook had a nice tribute to Bruce Kison, the ex-Pirates pitcher who died recently at age 68. It was interesting to look back at the role he had in winning the 1971 World Series as a skinny kid, and the wedding all Pittsburgh eyed.

— Austin Meadows (.382) has stayed hot, earning National League Rookie of the Month honors.

— Jung-ho Kang is hitting well on his rehab.

St. Louis Cardinals

— RIP Red Schoendienst, a Cardinals legend. Schoendienst’s Cardinals career began when he hitched a ride from his Germantown, Ill. home at 19 in 1942 for a tryout. The 10-time All-Star and three-time world champion became a Hall of Famer. He was 85.

— Yadier Molina is back, and that’s a huge plus. As MLB Network pointed out, Cardinals pitchers have a 3.64 ERA with Yadi behind the plate since 2005, 4.23 without him.

— Hard as it is to believe, opposing teams started 20-for-20 in stolen bases vs. the Cardinals (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

— Michael Wacha’s return to stardom was noted in this space last week, and he punctuated that with his near no-hitter.

— Is hitting coach John Mabry under fire? Benjamin Hochman in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about this. One thing to keep in mind: He is best friends with Mike Matheny.

— The supremely talented Alex Reyes suffered a lat issue in his first start back, which had been eagerly awaited, especially after he set records on his rehab assignments, and will now miss the season just four innings into it after needing surgery. With health, he’s likely one of the best pitchers in the game.

— Reyes’ injury could mean St. Louis joins a big field in search of starting pitching.

— Carlos Martinez is back just in time.

— Marcell Ozuna had a natural grand slam, which means a four-run hit as the fourth batter for his team. Other Cardinals to do this include Albert Pujols, Todd Zeile, Ken Boyer (twice), Jim Bottomley and Rogers Hornsby (via Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

San Diego Padres

— The Padres are another team to begin surveying the landscape to see what some of their better veteran players could bring in trade. But word is, the Padres, playing better in recent days and not all that far out in the NL West, will wait before doing anything drastic.

— The Padres will market Brad Hand as elite, definitively behind just Milwaukee’s Josh Hader in the lefty relief ranks right now.

— On Monday, the Padres were actually closer to first than the Angels, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times noted.

— The Padres drafted Ryan Weathers, son of former MLB pitcher David Weathers (a great guy), at No. 7 overall.

— Their second pick, Xavier Edwards, is a speedy shortstop from North Broward (Fla.) Prep. GM A.J. Preller went to see him, and he loved him. While he was the last draftee picked among the six who went to MLB Network for the draft, at No. 38, he is in a good spot (assuming Fernando Tatis Jr. becomes a third baseman or Edwards can make a move to second base). Dee Gordon is a fair comp.

San Francisco Giants

— Madison Bumgarner is back. And that’s big.

— The Giants were on a roll leading up to the MadBum comeback, winning five straight to go to .500 and draw close in the tightly packed NL West.

Hank Schulman wrote on Dereck Rodriguez, son of Pudge.

Schulman also did a nice story on Jeff Samardzija marveling at Dwight Clark’s amazing catch. The great Clark died after a battle with ALS.

— Brandon Belt, whose last few years have been marred by quite a variety of ailments, was on the DL with appendicitis.

— Joey Bart, the Georgia Tech catcher, was a logical choice at No. 2 overall, as team elders wanted to have a replacement behind the plate for the Cooperstown-bound Buster Posey, who will need to move to first base in coming years.

— Brandon Crawford (.322, .871 OS) is having a revival.

— Is Gorkys Hernandez having his coming out party?

— You have to wonder whether the Giants will go for Tim Lincecum now that he’s free again. There’s always been a close relationship. And don’t forget, they did bring back Pablo Sandoval, whom they may not have loved quite as much after he ripped every Giant but Bruce Bochy and Hunter Pence. Lincecum, Sandoval and Pence also have the same agent (Beverly Hills Sports Council).

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Mariners

— GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais are in the last years of their three-year deals, but the way the team is now playing, they seem positioned for extensions – that assumes the Mariners break their MLB-long streak of not making the playoffs since their record-setting year of 2001. Dipoto’s many trades seem to be paying off, and it doesn’t hurt Servais that they are an MLB-best 18-9 in one-run games.

— They are 16-5 since Cano (euphemism alert) went out.

— One Mariners-connected person still wonders whether they can survive with a pair of soft tossers, Marco Gonzalez and Wade LeBlanc, filling out 40 percent of the rotation.

— One thing to take solace in: Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager are off to rough starts.

— Cruz incidentally is planning on playing next year. That makes sense since he went to the trouble to hire a new agent, Bryce Dixon.

— Eye Chart has been designated. Too bad, just as I was learning to spell it (Rzepczynski?).

— Felix Hernandez may be adjusting to lesser stuff, and he passed Dennis Eckersley on the all-time strikeout list, with 2,402.

— Dee Gordon was caught taking BP at 12:30 a.m. (via Greg Johns of

— Daniel Schlereth, the former No. 1 pick of the Diamondbacks and son of former Denver Broncos star/broadcaster Mark Schlereth, was signed by the Mariners off the Long Island Ducks squad. Mark tweeted excitedly about the comeback.

Tampa Bay Rays

— The draftniks loved what the Rays did in the draft, starting with Arizona high school left-hander Matthew Liberatore going at No. 16 overall when many folks saw him as a top-five pick. His best buddy Nolan Gorman went three picks later to the Cardinals.

— Liberatore and the Rays are close to a deal.

— Sandy Dengler, a 41-year MLB employee, became the first woman to represent a team on draft day. She repped the Rays.

— The pitching injuries continued to pile up. Anthony Banda needs Tommy John surgery, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported. Previously, Brent Honeywell and Jose DeLeon needed Tommy John surgery.

— Meanwhile, Blake Snell is emerging. He had seven strikeouts to start a game.

Kevin Cash told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that the Rays need to work on their baserunning.

— Mallex Smith was ejected for arguing a check swing strike three. His explanation to Topkin: “He told me that Superman was better than Batman, and I disagreed.” (For the record, the ump was correct; Superman is better than Batman.)

Texas Rangers

— Tim Lincecum was a practically free look ($1 million), but the Rangers apparently liked the way he threw better in the showcase than he did during the 30-day rehab and he is now an ex-Ranger. The Dodgers and Giants were the two other finalists for his services this spring.

— The Rangers made the call because Lincecum’s velocity/stuff wasn’t matching his showcase, in their estimation. One Rangers person said they loved having him around while he was there, however.

— Joey Gallo, believe it or not, is currently the team’s backup center fielder.

Evan Grant wrote quite a story on the tragedies that have befallen the Rangers scouting staff, and how they have dealt with them.

Toronto Blue Jays

— Josh Donaldson’s calf injury has a chance to impact a trade value already diminished by earlier shoulder/throwing woes. With his $23 million salary, that value is looking rather limited at present.

— Yangervis Solarte has been a revelation. He leads the Jays with 12 home runs. Also like the nickname Yan Solo.

— The Jays weren’t necessarily expected to be a seller. And they didn’t possess any veteran veteran starters who were expected to be major players on the trade market this year, either. But things change, and the underrated, under-the-radar left-hander J.A. Happ just might be among the most coveted available pitchers – if not the most coveted among pitchers who look likely to be traded.

— There’s been a lot of talk about a possible promotion for Vlad Guerrero Jr., who’s tearing it up at Double-A (especially by people outside the organization). But the first move is likely to be to Triple-A Buffalo, anyway.

— Cavan Biggio, son of Craig, may actually “beat” him to the majors. Of course, at 23 he is four years older than Guerrero. Biggio’s stock has skyrocketed. “He’s much improved,” one scout says.

— The Jays added to their great collection of baseball progeny by drafting Griffin Conine, the son of Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine, in the second round. Conine is a Duke outfielder who made a big impression with wood bats in the Cape Cod league. Conine is a late bloomer who was originally a skateboarder (Jeff was a two-sport star, having been a world class racquetball player as well).

Washington Nationals

— The Nats checked in on star Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto a couple weeks back, and word is, they are looking for a “haul,” the type of haul the Nats aren’t willing to surrender. The Nats top two prospects are Juan Soto (now up in the bigs) and Victor Robles, and they’d fit into the Marlins’ needs, which are many.

— The talks between superstar Bryce Harper and the Nats have been kept quiet. And there’s a good reason for that: There aren’t any … at least not now.

— Max Scherzer became the fifth pitcher to throw multiple immaculate innings – which means three strikeouts on nine pitches total. He did it in the 4-2 win over the Rays and previously vs. the Phillies last year. Scherzer joined quite an impressive list of Hall of Famers in turning the trick – Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson (via Eddie Matz of ESPN). Scherzer called it “a cool thing” in an interview on MLB Central on MLB Network.

— Scherzer also had 81 strikes and only 18 balls in the 99-pitch performance. Jayson Stark of MLB Network and The Athletic pointed out on twitter that Mitch Williams once threw 22 balls in one-third of an inning.

— A scout who recently went to see Daniel Murphy said he still “didn’t look good.” Murphy has progressed to running but the issues seems to be turning and pivoting.

— Adam Eaton still a ways to go as well.

— Robles could be within a month of returning.

— Jeremy Hellickson’s hamstring injury may test their rotation depth, which hasn’t been the same since some recent trades, including deals with the White Sox and A’s.

— The Nats have done a terrific job internationally, with Soto signing for $1.5 million (he’s probably worth $80M, one rival exec guesses), Robles $225,000, Pedro Severino $40K, Wilmer Difo $20K, Wander Suero $25K, Reynaldo Lopez $15K and Jefry Rodriguez $25K.

— The Nats quietly brought Seth Romero (who had been sent home from spring training due to curfew violations) back in mid-May, and he’s been in extended spring the past three weeks before (also quietly) being reinstated to Class-A Hagerstown yesterday. As one scout put it, “He has a chance to be damn good, and real fast.” But off the field, he needs to slow down. This was a good lesson. Hopefully, he learned.

— Word going around is that the Nationals plan to keep Juan Soto up even when their injured stars return.

MLB Draft

— While Luke Heimlich — the star Oregon State pitcher who pleaded guilty to molesting his young niece when he was a 15-year-old — went undrafted a second straight year, there are teams considering signing him as a free agent. One baseball executive who’s at least weighing it called the situation “complicated.” Heimlich’s criminal file was supposed to be sealed, but when he failed to register as a sex offender the Oregonian newspaper uncovered the confessed crime. Heimlich recently claimed in a couple recent interviews that he never committed the act which he confessed to but only did so to spare his niece from testifying and himself from jail. However the girl’s mother maintains that Heimlich did indeed do what he confessed to doing. Heimlich was kept on the Oregon State roster after the crime was revealed and there have been no reported issues with him at the school. He had been seen as a first- or second-round pick before the ugly revelation.

— Kumar Rocker, RHP out of Watkinsville, Ga., said on Instagram he plans to attend Vanderbilt after he went undrafted (presumably due to signability) on Day One.

— Cole Wilcox, a RHP out of Ringgold, Ga., similarly said he’d be pitching at the University of Georgia. Wrote Wilcox: “I’ve decided to go home.”

Jonathan Mayo of has a list of 10 interesting picks.

Keith Law of ESPN reacted to the Day One picks and Jim Callis of provided an immediate analysis.

Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.

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