Phillies

MLB Notes: Mets' Matt Harvey to DL, may need season-ending surgery

MLB Notes: Mets' Matt Harvey to DL, may need season-ending surgery

NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey has symptoms consistent with thoracic outlet syndrome, and the struggling New York Mets star could be facing season-ending surgery to treat a serious condition that has jeopardized the career of other major league pitchers.

General manager Sandy Alderson announced the diagnosis Thursday after Harvey was examined in St. Louis by a specialist, Dr. Robert Thompson. Alderson said a decision on surgery is likely to come in the next few days before the All-Star break.

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a condition caused by the compression of nerves, blood vessels or both in the area between the neck and armpit. After his start Monday, the 27-year-old Harvey complained of some common symptoms, which include numbness in fingers and shoulder discomfort. 

The former ace was seen by Mets doctors, referred to Thompson for further examination and placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to Tuesday. 

Another temporary treatment option is a "nerve block" that might help Harvey return to the mound fairly quickly, but surgery is probably inevitable at some point and the operation usually requires a four-month recovery period, Alderson said.

Harvey had been scheduled to start Saturday night at Citi Field against Max Scherzer and the NL East-leading Washington Nationals. Right-hander Logan Verrett (3-5) will pitch in his place and could get a chance to hold down that spot in the rotation.

"We'll evaluate it, but right now he'd be the guy we would lean toward," New York manager Terry Collins said (see full story).

Home Run Derby: Defending champion Frazier, MLB leader Trumbo headline field
NEW YORK -- Defending champion Todd Frazier and Mark Trumbo lead the field for Monday's All-Star Home Run Derby in San Diego.

Frazier, second in the American League with 23 homers, will take on Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez in the first round, while Trumbo -- the No. 1 seed and current major league leader with 26 -- faces the Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager.

Cincinnati's Adam Duvall is paired with the host Padres' Wil Myers and Seattle's Robinson Cano will go against Miami's Giancarlo Stanton in the other matchups. The Trumbo-Seager winner will face Cano or Stanton in the semifinals, while the Frazier-Gonzalez winner will go against Duvall or Myers.

Brackets were based on season home run totals through Wednesday.

Each batter gets four minutes per round. A batter may call a 45-second timeout in each of the first two rounds, and two in the final. Players can earn 30 seconds of bonus time with two homers of 440 feet or more.

Cardinals, Indians: Diaz, Kluber added to All-Star teams as injury replacements
SAN DIEGO -- St. Louis rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz will replace his teammate, infielder Matt Carpenter, on the National League roster for next week's All-Star game.

The American League also made a change, with Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber stepping in for Toronto pitcher Marco Estrada, who has been placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The replacements were announced Thursday by NL manager Terry Collins of the New York Mets and AL manager Ned Yost of the Kansas City Royals.

Carpenter made his third All-Star team, but left Wednesday night's game against Pittsburgh with an injury. Diaz is batting .319 with 12 home runs, 44 RBI, 22 doubles, 54 runs scored, a .382 on-base percentage and a .534 slugging percentage (see full story).

Braves: Gordon Beckham off DL, Emilio Bonifacio cut
CHICAGO -- The Atlanta Braves have activated infielder Gordon Beckham from the disabled list and designated utility player Emilio Bonifacio for assignment.

Beckham was in the starting lineup at shortstop and batting second for Thursday night's game against the Chicago Cubs after being sidelined 33 games with a left hamstring strain.

The 31-year-old Bonifacio batted .129 with no extra-base hits and 11 strikeouts in 31 at-bats over 15 games. He was signed by Atlanta in the offseason, released April 6, and then re-signed to a minor league deal four days later.

Beckham was hitting .284 before he was injured June 1.

Pete Rose sues former baseball investigator over rape claims
Former baseball star Pete Rose on Wednesday sued the lawyer whose investigative report got him kicked out of baseball for gambling, alleging the lawyer defamed him last year by saying on radio that Rose raped young teen girls during spring training.

Rose said in the federal lawsuit that John M. Dowd damaged his reputation and endorsement deals during a July 2015 interview on WCHE-AM in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Dowd investigated Rose for Major League Baseball in 1989, leading the league's all-time hits leader to be declared ineligible for the Hall of Fame.

The lawsuit states Dowd said during the radio appearance that Rose associate Michael Bertolini told investigators he "ran young girls" to Rose during spring training, which Dowd called "statutory rape every time." Bertolini's lawyers issued a categorical denial last summer.

"Rose never did any such thing and until the Dowd accusations, no one had ever claimed he did," Rose's lawyers wrote in the complaint. "What Dowd attributes to Bertolini is false: Bertolini states he never told Dowd any such thing."

Rose, who lives in Las Vegas, had applied for reinstatement to the game last year and was about to appear at an All-Star Game in Cincinnati, where he coached and played, when Dowd said on Jim Rome's radio show on June 23, 2015, that Rose "had Bertolini running young women down in Florida for his satisfaction," the lawsuit said (see full story).

Twins: Pitching coach Allen back 6 weeks after DWI arrest
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Twins pitching coach Neil Allen has rejoined the team six weeks after his arrest on suspension of drunken driving. 

Allen was back with the team Thursday for the start of a four-game series at Texas, the last games before the All-Star break. 

The Twins suspended Allen indefinitely after his arrest in the early morning hours of May 27 in downtown Minneapolis. 

Without getting into specifics, manager Paul Molitor said Allen had completed the club's requirements and things that he needed to do (see full story).

Red Sox: INF Aaron Hill acquired from Brewers
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox have acquired infielder Aaron Hill from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for two minor leaguers.

The Red Sox will also receive cash in the deal that sent right-hander Aaron Wilkerson and infielder Wendell Rijo to Milwaukee.

To make room for Hill on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated outfielder Ryan LaMarre for assignment. 

Hill, 34, is batting.283 with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 78 games this season. In his career, he has hit .269 with 159 homers for Toronto, Arizona and Milwaukee. He was an All-Star with the Blue Jays in 2009.

Wilkerson is 6-3 with a 2.14 ERA in Double-A and Triple-A this season. Rijo, 20, was named Boston's 15th-best prospect by Baseball America last offseason.

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Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta goes to school on Justin Verlander

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Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta goes to school on Justin Verlander

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DUNEDIN, Fla. — For a gazillion years, pitchers have been told to keep the ball down. That is still valuable advice, but with more and more hitters looking to launch the ball with an upward swing path these days, power pitchers are striking back with a high fastball above the bat head.

Nick Pivetta has a power fastball and he’s working on this technique. He consciously threw some fastballs above the belt in his two-inning spring debut Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“We're telling all of our pitchers, we're asking them to do some new things,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “And there's going to be some times in spring training games when you get hit a little bit.”

That’s OK. The new-school Phillies want their players to be open to new ideas. Pivetta, who struck out 9.5 batters per nine innings in 26 starts last season, is open learning to ride a high fastball by a hitter looking to launch. He watched on television as Justin Verlander did that for Houston in the postseason last year and he’s watched more video of Verlander and interacted with Phillies coaches about the strategy this spring.

“A key point that they brought to me was how Verlander pitched in the playoffs,” Pivetta said. “I think that’s something I can learn from a lot of the time, how he did it when he came over to Houston.

“It’s part of pitching. You’ve got to be able to command the zone, both the top and bottom. It’s not to say we’re going to only throw up. It’s just something else to work on.”

Pivetta pitched two innings and struck out three in the 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays. He allowed three hits, a walk and two runs in the first inning. One of the hits was a solo homer by Curtis Granderson on a hanging breaking ball.

Kapler was pleased with Pivetta’s performace and his reponse to trying new things.

“He executed his game plan today,” Kapler said. “He executed some pretty nasty sliders at the bottom of the zone. He executed some fastballs at the top of the zone. He missed some bats, which is really encouraging.

“One of the things we’re working on with him is elevating a little bit. He has velocity and strong pitch characteristics to pitch up in the zone. But he also has the ability to pitch down in the zone with his slider and his curveball.

“He kicked ass today. He did everything we asked him to do.”

The Phillies host the Orioles on Saturday. Zach Eflin will be the starting pitcher.

Lost and found — K-Rod enjoys solid debut with Phillies

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USA Today Images

Lost and found — K-Rod enjoys solid debut with Phillies

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DUNEDIN, Fla. — Francisco Rodriguez navigated the narrow streets of this friendly, little, old-school spring training burg looking for a place to park his Mercedes late Friday morning.

Finally, after asking several people for directions, he found a spot near the grounds crew shed at Dunedin Stadium.

The episode was a bit of a metaphor for Rodriguez’s workday with the Phillies. Back on the mound in a game situation for the first time since last summer, Rodriguez allowed a walk to the first batter he faced and later a single, but stayed composed and left two runners on base in notching a scoreless inning in his first action of the spring in a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I felt kind of lost the first couple of batters,” Rodriguez said. “But once I got a ground ball, I started locating. It had been a while since I was on the mound in a game.”

Rodriguez, 36, is the most decorated player in Phillies camp. He is a six-time All-Star and baseball’s active leader in saves (437) and appearances (948). Released twice last season, he is trying to win a spot in the Phillies’ bullpen as a non-roster invite to camp.

He opened last season as Detroit’s closer, but was released in June after recording a 7.82 ERA in 28 games. The Nationals took a peek at him in the minors a few weeks later and also let him go.

Rodriguez said he was not healthy last season. He said he had issues with his groin and hamstring.

“I couldn’t be 100 percent,” he said. “But that’s not an excuse. I should have found a way to get the job done in Detroit and I couldn’t. That’s one of the reasons that I’m in this situation now.”

Rodriguez ranks fourth all time in saves behind Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith. He does not have the power fastball that once earned him the nickname K-Rod — he topped out at 89 mph Friday — but location, a good changeup and old-fashioned savvy are still strengths. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz was influential in bringing in Rodriguez for a look. The two were together in Milwaukee, where Rodriguez was an All-Star in 2014 and 2015.

“He’s a great reliever,” Kranitz said.

Does he have anything left?

“I believe so, yes,” Kranitz said.

Kranitz went on to say that Rodriguez was a high-character guy who would help the Phillies’ young pitchers.

Rodriguez was asked what pushed him to continue his career and come to camp essentially on a tryout.

“I love the game,” he said. “I don’t think I have to prove anything. I don’t think I went to Walmart and bought 900 appearances and 437 saves. I did that with a lot of pride and hard work. This is the only thing I know how to do, play baseball. God gave me the opportunity to throw a baseball and I’m going to continue to do it.”

The Phillies may go with an eight-man bullpen. That could help Rodriguez’s chances of sticking. But he will have to pitch well.

“I’m looking forward to having a great spring,” he said.