Category Archives: MLB

Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon throws no-hitter against Cleveland Indians

Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon came two outs away from a perfect game but threw the first no-hitter of his career in an 8-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.

Rodon, 28, threw 114 pitches in the complete game, looking as strong at the end of the contest as he did at the beginning.

“I can’t believe it,” Rodon stated on the game telecast afterwards.

With one out in the ninth inning, Rodon hit Roberto Perez in the foot, ending his chance at perfection. But the lefty then got Yu Chang looking on strike three and Jordan Luplow grounded out to third base.

Josh Naylor had opened the ninth inning with a slow roller to first baseman Jose Abreu, who barely got to the bag before Naylor. The call on the field was ruled an out, which was upheld by video review.

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It’s the second White Sox no-hitter in as many seasons; Rodon’s teammate, Lucas Giolito, threw one last season on Aug. 25 versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Rodon was the third overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft but injuries have plagued his career.

He was non-tendered by the White Sox this past December only to sign back with them on a 1-year deal for $3 million.

Tony La Russa is now the first manager to oversee two no-hitters in the American League and two in the National League, having been in the dugout Dave Stewart in 1990, Jose Jimenez in 1999 and Bud Smith in 2001.

Rodón was selected by Chicago with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 amateur draft. He has been hampered by injuries in recent years, but he won a spot in the rotation during spring training and pitched five innings in a 6-0 victory at Seattle in his first start of the season.

He was supposed to pitch on Monday versus Cleveland, but he was scratched because of an upset stomach.

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Schwarber debuts, leads Nats over Cardinals 5-2

Kyle Schwarber doubled home a run in his delayed Nationals debut, Andrew Stevenson had a pinch-hit homer and Washington defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 Monday night.

Schwarber, Josh Bell and Josh Harrison were in the starting lineup after being sidelined for Washington’s first six matches by a coronavirus outbreak that prompted the postponement of the team’s season-opening series and left the club short-handed.

The Nats ended a five-game skid, while the Cardinals lost their third consecutive. “We talked about it before the game: Fresh start for all of us, our guys are back,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “So let’s forget about the first six games and start today.”

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Stevenson hit his first homer of the season into St. Louis’ bullpen in right field leading off the seventh inning, putting Washington ahead 4-2. The solo shot was just his fourth homer in 221 career at-bats.

Kyle Finnegan (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings, giving up a run on one hit. He struck out two.

Schwarber, acquired in the offseason after the Chicago Cubs declined to offer him a contract, hit a 1-0 pitch from starter John Gant into right-center to drive in Juan Soto, who singled to start the sixth.

“I felt like a lot of guys had great at-bats all night, working deep counts and making that guy grind out there,” Schwarber said. “You know, that’s contagious.”

The Nationals added a run on the next pitch from reliever Giovanny Gallegos when Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly to foul territory in right, driving in Bell.

Gant (0-1) went five innings and gave up three runs. He permitted six hits, struck out four and walked three.

“The challenge tonight was not getting them all out,” Gant said about the sixth inning, when the first three batters reached against him. “They got a couple of knocks and got me out.”

Washington had an opportunity to break the game open when the first four batters reached to start the eighth against reliever Andrew Miller, including Castro singling home Bell. Ryan Helsley struck out Yan Gomes, and pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman flied out to center fielder Dylan Carlson, who threw out Schwarber at home to end the inning.

Yadier Molina hit his second homer of the season in the sixth to pull the Cardinals to 3-2.

Matt Carpenter ended an 0-for-12 start to the season with a bunt single in the third and scored on Tommy Edman’s hit, tying the game at 1. Carpenter has struggled at the plate since spring training, with just two hits in 37 at-bats, including 13 strikeouts.

“I was just glad to get one on the board,” Carpenter said. “Sometimes the first one is the hardest. It obviously was for me.”

Victor Robles led off the game with his second triple of the season and scored on Soto’s one-out single to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead.

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Washington Nationals to open season vs. Atlanta Braves on Tuesday

The Nationals will start their season on Tuesday by hosting the Atlanta Braves after Major League Baseball postponed Monday’s opener of the teams’ three-game series because of a coronavirus outbreak that involves 11 of Washington’s players.

Four Nationals players have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week and are isolating, while another seven are under quarantine because contact tracing determined they might have been exposed to the virus.

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said earlier Sunday that none of those 11 — a majority of whom, although not all, were supposed to be on the Opening Day roster — would be available if the three-game set with Atlanta start Monday.

Rizzo has not publicly identified any of the players involved or the two staff members who also have been placed under quarantine due to possible exposure.

Washington has yet to play this season; its opening three-game series at home versus the New York Mets on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday was postponed.

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“Believe me, we’re in constant contact with MLB,” Rizzo said in a video call with reporters Sunday afternoon, while he was still awaiting a decision about Monday’s game.

Rizzo has been adamant that Washington would need to be able to hold team workouts before facing an opponent.

Pitchers were able go to Nationals Park one by one on Saturday and Sunday to throw bullpen sessions.

“Position players haven’t worked out in a week. And pitchers haven’t thrown any competitive pitch in that same period of time. It’s something that we’re taking very seriously here. We’re thinking of creative ways under the protocol and under the guidance to get these guys as ready as possible,” Rizzo said.

“It makes a lot of sense for baseball, player protection-wise, to have these guys go through their paces in a full workout before we take the field,” he added.

The reigning National League East champion Braves are 0-3, coming off a season-opening sweep in which they managed to score a total of three runs at the Philadelphia Phillies.

Braves manager Brian Snitker stated Sunday afternoon — before MLB’s ruling arrived — that he was going to assume his club would be playing Monday until he heard otherwise.

“This is the COVID era. Everything’s fluid,” Snitker said.

The Nationals and Braves are now slated to face each other Tuesday and Wednesday. The 2019 World Series champions, who tied for last in the division last season, then would have Thursday off before heading out for a trip that is to start Friday at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

MLB did not announce when the first four games on Washington’s schedule will be made up.

Rizzo said the four players who tested positive are “feeling much, much better,” adding that any symptoms that appeared earlier have subsided.

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Héctor Neris gets the Phillies’ closer role to start the season, Joe Girardi says

The Phillies’ rebuilt bullpen incorporates four new relievers who have experience closing games, but the ninth-inning duties will remain with the same closer from last season’s historically poor unit.

Manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday that Héctor Neris, the team’s primary closer for the last three seasons, will again handle the ninth. Archie Bradley and José Alvarado will be used in setup roles while other newcomers Sam Coonrod and Brandon Kintzler will be utilized when needed.

Neris had a 4.57 ERA in 24 appearances last campaign, converting five of his eight save chances. His production dipped last summer, but Neris’ strikeout rate (11.2 per nine innings), contact rate (61.4%), swing rate (66.2%), and hard-hit rate (39.7%) were similar to his marks in 2019 when he finished with a 2.93 ERA and 28 saves.

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There is an argument that Neris’ biggest detriment last season was bad luck as his batting average on balls in play was .381, the 14th highest among all relievers and 59% higher than it was in 2019.

More balls seemed to fall in last season against Neris, whose FIP — a stat that is similar to ERA but removes the results on balls hit into play — was the 22nd-best among relievers and two runs lower than his ERA.

The Phillies will give Neris the opportunity to show that he’s more the pitcher he was in 2019 than the one who never seemed to find his footing in last year’s truncated season. But if Neris stumbles, there are options waiting to take the ninth inning.

“Héctor’s been a successful closer, Archie’s been a successful closer. I know Alvarado can close and Kintzler’s been a successful closer,” Girardi said.

“I know they can all do it. I just decided to go with Héctor. He’s done it, he’s done it in this town, and I like the way he’s throwing the baseball.”

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Kyle Hendricks to once again start on Opening Day for Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs manager David Ross selected Kyle Hendricks to start on Opening Day last year, and it worked out quite well.

He sees no reason to make a modification this year.

Ross announced Tuesday that Hendricks will get the ball when the Cubs start the season versus Pittsburgh on April 1 at Wrigley Field. The right-hander tossed a three-hitter in a 3-0 triumph over Milwaukee on Opening Day last summer.

“I feel like we’ve got a lot of talent,” Ross said. “I feel like Kyle, his resume, his leadership, his poise, all that goes into being the Opening Day starter, just the extra, kind of, pomp and circumstance that goes with Opening Day, especially this coming year as well, every arrow points to Kyle.”

Ross said he wasn’t ready to announce the order for the rest of his starting pitchers. Chicago also has Jake Arrieta and Zach Davies, and Trevor Williams, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay and Shelby Miller are in the mix for the last two spots.

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But there is no question about the leader of the rotation, especially after the Cubs traded Yu Darvish to San Diego in December.

The 31-year-old Hendricks, known for his precision, control and professor-like demeanor, is making his second Opening Day start.

He went 6-5 with a 2.88 ERA in 12 starts during the pandemic-shortened season, helping Chicago win the NL Central.

The opener versus the Pirates will be the first match at Wrigley with a crowd since Sept. 22, 2019. The Cubs have been cleared for as many as 8,274 fans per game at the beginnig of the season.

Hendricks has been a steady presence for Chicago since his big league debut in 2014. The Dartmouth graduate is 69-48 with a 3.12 ERA in 175 career games.

He had his best year in 2016, going 16-8 with a major league-low 2.13 ERA. Hendricks, an eighth-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft, was acquired by Chicago in the July 2012 trade that sent Ryan Dempster to Texas.

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Jon Lester makes Washington Nationals debut 2 weeks after surgery

Jon Lester was back on a mound Thursday, wearing a Washington Nationals uniform while facing opposing batters for the first time in spring training and striking out a couple during his two innings, less than two weeks after surgery to remove a parathyroid gland.

“Baseball, for me, is an escape. I come to the field, I’ve got stuff I need to do. I forget about this,” Lester said, pointing the scar on the front of his throat, after Washington’s 3-1 exhibition victory versus the New York Mets at Port St. Lucia, Florida.

“So you dive into that routine,” the 37-year-old left-hander said.

Wearing a red Nationals No. 34 uniform, Bryce Harper’s old number, along with a green hat the day after St. Patrick’s Day, Lester permitted one run and one hit while throwing 31 pitches, 21 for strikes.

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He went to 0-2 counts on each of the first three Mets hitters, getting the first two out before walking J.D. Davis and giving up a first-pitch RBI double to James McCann. Then Lester pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, and that was that.

His operation was March 5 for hyperparathyroidism, which can affect the amount of calcium levels in the bloodstream and lead to someone tiring easily.

Lester said he had a hard time sleeping Wednesday night.

“Regardless of the surgery, there was still excitement leading up to this day. New team. … I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous,” said Lester, who signed as a free agent with Washington for one year and $5 million after six seasons and one World Series title with the Chicago Cubs. “I had the butterflies, which is always good.”

Another important takeaway: Lester thinks he’ll “be in a good position” to be ready when the regular season starts April 1.

Manager Dave Martinez agreed, figuring Lester should be up to about 75 pitches after three more exhibition starts.

“We’ll see how he gets up tomorrow,” Martinez said. “But I think he’s on the right track.”

Lester took it as a good sign that his changeup worked well. That’s usually the last pitch that gets into gear. “It’s definitely been a point of emphasis, as far as in my bullpens and just really playing catch with it,” Lester said.

“So it was nice to see the results, the couple swing and misses, out in front, and got maybe a couple foul balls on it.”

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Boston Red Sox name Eduardo Rodriguez their Opening Day starter

A year after a bout with COVID-19 denied him an opportunity to be the Boston Red Sox’s Opening Day starter, Eduardo Rodríguez is getting a do-over.

Manager Alex Cora made the declaration Wednesday following Boston’s 9-1 spring training victory over the Minnesota Twins. Rodríguez threw an efficient 55 pitches, striking out six and giving up two hits and one earned run over five innings.

“Indeed, it’s going to be Eduardo. He’s one of the best out there,” Cora said of the left-hander. “He had a great season in ’19. Last year, he wasn’t able to pitch for obvious reasons. What he’s shown now, he’s healthy and he’s ready to go. … It was just a matter of time.”

Boston opens its calendar April 1 versus the Baltimore Orioles. Rodríguez went 13-5 for the Boston team that won a franchise-record 108 games and the World Series in 2018. He went into the next year at the bottom of the rotation behind Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi.

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But Rodríguez had the best season of the group, going 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA to finish sixth in American League Cy Young voting. He made his major-league-leading 34th start on the final day of the season with a chance at 20 wins but did not figure in the decision. Still, he finished with career bests in wins, ERA, starts, innings (203⅓) and strikeouts (213).

With Sale recovering from Tommy John surgery, Rodríguez was in line to start on Opening Day in 2020 before testing positive for the coronavirus and being diagnosed with inflammation in his heart muscles.

He said he couldn’t even complete a 25-pitch workout without feeling tired; on Aug. 1, just one week into the season, he was shut down for the year.

After putting the extended rest and recovery time to good use, he said he’s ready to take advantage of a chance he has yet to have during his five major league seasons.

Speaking prior to Cora naming him the starter, Rodríguez told reporters he would be honored to get the ball in the opener.

“If given the opportunity, I’m going to be so happy to do it because that’s something that everybody wants to do one time in their career,” he said.

“If I have the opportunity this year, I’m going to really appreciate it. I’m going to love it.”

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Ryan Braun, longtime Milwaukee Brewers slugger, leaning toward retirement

Ryan Braun stated he’s strongly leaning toward retirement, but the Milwaukee Brewers’ home run leader isn’t ready to make any decision regarding his future.

Braun visited the Brewers’ spring training site Monday and said he hasn’t picked up a bat since the end of the 2020 season. The 2011 NL MVP became a free agent when the Brewers declined to exercise a $15 million mutual option in his contract last October.

“I’m strongly leaning in the direction of being done as an active player,” the 37-year-old Braun said. “But I think you can always push that decision back.

I’m still young enough, still working out, still in shape. If something were to change, I might as well leave that door open as long as possible.”

Braun has spent his entire major league career with the Brewers and said that “I can’t foresee a scenario in which I play for any other major league team.”

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Last campaign, Braun batted a career-low .233 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 39 matches while dealing with a back issue. He came on strong late in the season and had a .958 OPS in September.

His back issues prevented him from playing in the Brewers’ first-round playoff loss to the eventual World Series-champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Once the regular season starts and I’m able to watch some games, I feel like that’s when I’ll actually miss the game itself,” Braun said.

“I’m kind of interested to see how I feel, what it feels like. Obviously, I’ve never experienced it before. Time will tell.”

Braun made his debut with Milwaukee in 2007. His 352 homers as a Brewer are the most of anyone in franchise history.

He ranks second among all Brewers in career RBIs (1,154), extra-base hits (809), total bases (3,525) and doubles (408). He ranks third in runs (1,080), hits (1,963), triples (49), stolen bases (216) and walks (586).

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Texas Rangers reliever Jonathan Hernandez shut down from pitching at least 4 weeks with UCL sprain

The Texas Rangers will be without one of their top relievers to initiate the season after hard-throwing Jonathan Hernandez was shut down from pitching for at least four weeks because of a ligament sprain in his right elbow.

Rangers general manager Chris Young stated Tuesday that an MRI revealed a low-grade ulnar collateral ligament sprain after the right-hander felt something when throwing his last batting practice session.

Hernandez had a breakout season last year, when he was 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA in 27 appearances in the pandemic-shortened 60-game season. He had 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 31 innings, relying heavily on a sinker that averaged nearly 98 mph.

“The good news on him is that this [injury] is one that normally recovers and responds well with some rest,” Young said from the team’s spring training camp in Surprise, Arizona. Young also stated that outfielder/designated hitter Willie Calhoun is dealing with some mild groin tightness after playing Monday.

The team planned to be cautious with Calhoun for a few days but didn’t initially plan an MRI.

That game came exactly one year after Calhoun was hit in the face by a fastball that broke his jaw during a spring training game.

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Young said the Rangers would re-evaluate Hernandez after four weeks, and determine then if the 24-year-old’s ulnar collateral ligament has healed enough to begin a throwing program. He hadn’t yet pitched in a spring training game and will need significant time to build back up once he can throw again.

“Jonathan is obviously one we were counting on,” said Young, who expects the reliever to be out at least a couple of months. “This one hurts a little bit. But there’s still a chance he pitches this year.”

While Hernandez didn’t have any save opportunities last season, he pitched in some high-leverage situations. The Rangers expected to use him in a similar role this year, with maybe some opportunities as the closer.

“We kind of anticipated him being obviously one of our back-end guys, a multiple inning-type pitcher as well,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s an eighth-, ninth-inning guy that we can pitch for the eighth and the ninth if we wanted to. We don’t have that option with some of our other guys.”

Jose Leclerc is coming back from a shoulder injury the closer sustained a week into last season, when pitched in only two matches. Left-handed Joely Rodriguez, who had a 2.13 ERA and struck out 17 in his 12⅔ innings last season, is still behind in spring training because of a sprained ankle before getting to camp. He is expected to throw his first bullpen session Friday.

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has surgery to get pacemaker

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is taking an immediate medical leave of absence after having surgery Wednesday to get a pacemaker, the team revealed.

The team stated Boone’s surgery went “as expected” and that he will spend the night at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, to rest and recover. Boone was “in good spirits,” the team said.

General manager Brian Cashman said Boone could return to the team in two to three days.

The 47-year-old Boone, who had open-heart surgery in 2009, said in a statement that he has had mild symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath over the past six to eight weeks. He said further tests in New York before spring training indicated he had a low heart rate, necessitating the surgery.

“My faith is strong, and my spirits are high,” Boone said. “I’m in a great frame of mind because I know I’m in good hands with the doctors and medical staff here. … They are confident that today’s surgery will allow me to resume all of my usual professional and personal activities and afford me a positive long-term health prognosis without having to change anything about my way of life.”

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Boone, entering his fourth season as manager of the Yankees, said he looks forward “to getting back to work in the next several days.”

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza took over as acting manager for Wednesday night’s exhibition, a 4-1 victory over Toronto in Tampa.

Mendoza, 41, was a minor leaguer mostly with San Francisco and the Yankees from 1997-09 and is starting his 13th season working for the Yankees. He joined the major league staff as quality control and infield coach under Boone in 2018 and succeeded Josh Bard as bench coach for 2020.

“The mindset doesn’t change,” Mendoza said. “We have a really good group of coaches here and really good personnel that are going to continue to get these guys ready to play the regular season.”

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said “the thoughts of the entire organization are with Aaron and his family” in a statement released by the team.

“Aaron leads our players, coaches and staff with a rare combination of work ethic, intelligence and a genuine concern for others,” Steinbrenner said. “Our only priority at this time is Aaron’s health and well-being, and we will support him in every way throughout his recovery.”

Boone played in the major leagues from 1997 to 2009. He was an All-Star for the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 shortly before getting traded to the Yankees. Later that year, his 11th-inning home run off Boston’s Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series won the pennant for New York.

Boone is a third-generation major leaguer; his grandfather Gus, father Bob and brother Bret also played in the big leagues, and his nephew Jake is a minor leaguer in the Washington organization.

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