Around the Major Leagues: 2013 Week 7

Updates on the major news across Major League Baseball during the seventh week of the season. Mo Rivera is like Old Man River.

AL East

- Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen hit the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain, but don’t go looking for top pitching prospect Kevin Gausman to fill the left-hander’s spot in the rotation.  According to quotes taken by the Baltimore Sun, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette indicated that Gausman isn’t a candidate for any open rotation spots thus far in the season, though the hurler may skip Triple-A on to Baltimore before the year is out.  As of May 14, Gausman has an earned-run average of 3.35 with 39 strikeouts and just four walks in 40.1 innings.  Baltimore fans will have to wait just a bit longer to catch Gausman fooling major league hitters with his plus-fastball and changeup combination.

- Several baseball pundits speculated that it may be a year or two until Manny Machado would break out offensively.  They were probably a year or two early, as the Orioles third baseman is well on his way to a breakout season.  Machado has a .328 batting average with 24 extra-base hits in over 180 at-bats.  The Florida native’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) currently ranks third of all third baseman in baseball at 2.2, tied with David Wright.

- The New York Yankees have weathered strong through a force of injuries that have sidelined key players before the season even began.  New York got a little more whole as Curtis Granderson returned to make his 2013 debut on Tuesday night.  The Yankees outfielder went hitless in three at-bats, though reached base with a walk.  Granderson has missed time since fracturing his right forearm in Spring Training.

- In an article by Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is ‘closing’ his career in style.  The Yankees icon has been flawless this season with 16 saves in as many opportunities with a 1.56 earned-run average.  At 43-years old and still dominating, it’s interesting to ponder how long Rivera could continue in such impeccable form if he did not announce his retirement following the season.

- 2013 has thus far been a trying season for 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price.  The Rays left-hander is 1-4 with an earned-run average of 5.24 and has served up eight long balls in 55 innings.  Price will have to ponder his struggles on the bench instead of working through them on the mound, as the top starter strained his left triceps muscle and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

AL Central

- What happens when the Indians make a slew of moves to shore up their offense and increase the hope of Cleveland fans at a shot at the playoffs?  They live up to expectations, apparently.  Though it’s too early to declare the Indians a playoff team, it is time to give the Indians some credit.  Cleveland (25-17) currently sits atop the AL Central, two games above the defending AL Champion Detroit Tigers.  Major contributors so far have been impending free agent Mark Reynolds (12 home runs, 37 RBI, .909 OPS), catcher Carlos Santana (.300/.409/.554), starter Zach McAllister (3-3, 2.65 ERA), and number one hurler Justin Masterson (7-2, 2.83 ERA).  The team has also received boosted production recently from second baseman Jason Kipnis and starter Ubaldo Jimenez.  It is past time to take notice.

- With one of the best starting rotations in Major League Baseball, the Detroit Tigers have ridden their starters to a strong start in the 2013 season.  Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press outlined the rotation’s success in an article here.  As of May 14, Detroit’s rotation led the American League in earned-run average (3.24) and the team’s overall earned-run average (3.42) also ranked first.

- Paul Konerko’s production at the plate has aged like a fine wine.  From 2010-12 in his age 34-36 seasons, the first baseman’s OPS (.977, .905, .857) has been above his career average (.854).  Many have wondered when the White Sox slugger would finally hit his decline, and it may be happening this season, much to the chagrin of White Sox fans.  Konerko’s batting average is currently sitting at .224, which would be by far the lowest average he’s posted since his rookie season.  The 16-year veteran has also belted only four home runs, a power outage that would put Konerko on pace for a career low in home runs since his initial year.  Though his season has been a disappointment, baseball fans will have to wait until the weather turns consistently warm in Chicago to fully give up on the slugger.

AL West

- Oakland’s struggles have been prominent this month after the club was sitting at or atop the division for much of April.  The Athletics are now 23-22, five and a half games behind the division-leading Texas Rangers.  Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle outlines the A’s struggles in a loss to the Rangers on Wednesday.  Oakland hopes that the return of center fielder Coco Crisp will spark the Athletics back into contention.

- Though the Athletics may also look onward at the eventual return of starter Brett Anderson (ankle), that time period will stretch for another month plus after Oakland learned that the left-hander suffered a stress factor in his right foot, according to the Chronicle.

- Rangers fans awaiting the return of starter Colby Lewis will be forced to wait awhile longer.  According to the Star Telegram, Lewis received an anti-inflammatory injection for triceps tendonitis.  The Rangers starter must stay inactive for seven days before beginning a new assignment.  Lewis, who hasn’t pitched in a game since tearing a flexor tendon in 2012, was recently pulled from his rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock with soreness.  There remains no timetable on his return.

- Though Texas will be without second baseman Ian Kinsler for a couple weeks after being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right intercostal muscle, Rangers fans will see the return of the consensus top prospect in baseball.  The Rangers recalled Jurickson Profar from Triple-A and should give the infielder regular playing time in Kinsler’s absence.  Profar had a batting average of .278 with an on-base percentage of .370 and 13 extra-base hits in 144 at-bats for Round Rock.

NL East

- The Braves rotation should be bolstered with a mid-to-late June return of starter Brandon Beachy.  The right-hander made his second rehab start on Sunday and is set to make roughly five more before joining Atlanta’s rotation in June, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Beachy is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

- As Atlanta’s rotation looks to get healthier, their bullpen took a couple of hits.  Reliever Jonny Venters underwent Tommy John surgery on Thursday and will be out for roughly 12 months.  This is the second time Venters has undergone the surgery, so a full recovery is much more questionable.  It was later announced that Eric O’Flaherty has a tear in an elbow ligament and could face Tommy John surgery himself.  O’Flaherty will meet with Dr. James Andrews before ultimately deciding.

- Chase Utley’s name has been synonymous with the Phillies, as the second baseman has been one of the more underrated players of the past decade.  The Philadelphia Inquirer brings up a question that most Phillies fans don’t want to face in a recent article - should Philadelphia deal Utley before the trade deadline?

NL Central

- Starter Matt Garza is facing the strong possibility of making his first start for the Chicago Cubs next week after working six shutout innings in a rehab start for Iowa on Thursday.  Garza is recovering from a strained left lat muscle.  The Cubs hope to showcase a healthy Garza before the trading deadline in two and a half months.

- Brandon Phillips has never driven in 100 runs in a season.  The closest he got was 98 in 2009 for Cincinnati.  The second baseman was recently quoted by John Fay of the Cincinnati Inquirer that it is his number one goal this season.  As of Tuesday, Phillips was on pace to drive in 149 runs with a .447 batting average with runners in scoring position.  The goal of every other NL Central team?  Keep him off that pace.

- How desperate are the Brewers to improve their bullpen?  Enough to take a second flyer on reliever Francisco Rodriguez.  The Brewers called up K-Rod from the minors after signing him to a minor league contract and look for him to put a disappointing 2012 season (4.38 earned-run average; seven blown saves) in the past.  Rodriguez is trying to find the velocity that helped make him such a force in the bullpen, though the Journal Sentinel reported that K-Rod is topping out at 90-91 mph.

- Jean Segura’s stellar start to the season has caught the eyes of many around baseball.  The shortstop has already belted seven home runs, seven more than he hit in 151 previous major league at-bats.  The Brewers have also noticed, as the team has approached Segura about a long-term contract, according to the Journal Sentinel.  While a deal isn’t expected to be imminent, the interest is real.  Segura was acquired by the Brewers in the deal that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels, one Los Angeles would probably like to have back.

- The Cardinals have been getting the opportunity to showcase their young pitching depth upon the struggles from the bullpen and injuries to starters.  Jaime Garcia was the latest who bit the dust, as the left-hander hit the disabled list with renewed shoulder pain from what he experienced last year after getting shut down in the playoffs.  The Cardinals starter faces the possibility of season-ending shoulder surgery.  Tyler Lyons will get the call from St. Louis, taking what would have been Garcia’s next start on Wednesday.

NL West

- Carlos Gonzalez had a historic night for the Rockies on Tuesday night.  According to the Denver Post, the outfielder’s 12 total bases against the Cubs tied a Rockies’ record for most in a road game and was the first player to do it without hitting three home runs.  Troy Renck posts more interesting Rockies statistics here.

- Zack Greinke is a bull.  Nobody can question his drive to play after the right-hander made his first start for the Dodgers on Wednesday after returning from a fractured collarbone in an on-field collision with Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin.  Greinke, who was expected to miss two months, took the win against Washington after missing just over a month from the injury.  The Florida native surrendered one run over 5.1 innings with four strikeouts and no walks.


Pierce Jefferson can be reached via email at Follow him on twitter (@MLBPJ).

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