MLB Notes: Red Sox cut losses, designate Pablo Sandoval for assignment

MLB Notes: Red Sox cut losses, designate Pablo Sandoval for assignment

BOSTON -- Panda-mania is over in Boston before it ever really began.

The Red Sox designated third baseman Pablo Sandoval for assignment on Friday, cutting their losses on the $95 million free agent who was never productive or healthy enough to replicate the popularity -- or World Series success -- he had in San Francisco.

The Red Sox have seven days to trade or release the 30-year-old Sandoval, who was activated from the disabled list (inner ear infection) and returned from an injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Unless they can find a taker for part of his salary, they will have paid $95 million for a total of 161 games, 575 at-bats, 136 hits and 14 homers -- and not a single one of them in the postseason.

"It really came down to us feeling we were not a better club if he was on our club at the major league level," Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said (see full story).

Yankees: Pineda mulling options for tear in pitching elbow
BOSTON -- New York starting pitcher Michael Pineda is mulling over what could be season-ending surgery after being diagnosed with a partial ligament tear in his pitching elbow.

General manager Brian Cashman also said Friday that first baseman Greg Bird could require surgery for a right ankle issue that hasn't responded to a cortisone shot. Garrett Cooper, who was acquired Thursday in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, was scheduled to start at first on Friday night as New York opened a four-game series with the rival Boston Red Sox.

Pineda was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday for the ulnar collateral ligament injury and Cashman said it was the recommendation of the team for him to undergo Tommy John surgery.

But Pineda's intent is to get a second opinion before deciding whether to undergo surgery. Bird, who has already had a cortisone shot on the foot, may have a second shot or face surgery. Cashman said the surgery would mean a six- to eight-week recovery period.

Pineda first complained of an elbow issue following an appearance prior to the All-Star break. His last start was July 5 against Toronto. He lasted just four innings in that game outing, giving up five runs and nine hits (see full story).

Nationals: Closer Ross goes on DL with sore elbow
CINCINNATI -- The Washington Nationals put right-hander Joe Ross on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained elbow on Friday and revamped their bullpen for a series against the Reds.

Ross went 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his last four starts before the injury. He's 5-3 overall with a 5.01 ERA in 13 starts.

The Nationals also called up relievers Austin Adams and Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Left-hander Sammy Solis was optioned to Syracuse.

Adams was acquired from the Angels in the offseason will be making his major league debut. Gott makes his second appearance with the Nationals this season. Solis was reinstated on July 1 after missing 65 games with a sore elbow and appeared in four games, giving up eight runs.

Brewers: Team looks to maintain lead in NL Central
MILWAUKEE -- Eric Thames looked up at the television near his locker in the Milwaukee Brewers clubhouse in time to hear baseball analysts heaping praise on one of the majors' most surprising teams.

The Brewers aren't a secret anymore, not with a 5 1/2-game lead in the National League Central at the All-Star break.

"It's good to see on TV, the press, everyone starting to realize that the team's a force to be reckoned with," Thames said with a smile Thursday before an early-evening team workout at Miller Park "I'm digging it. I'm ready to start the second half."

It has been quite a season for a club that was supposed to be in the second full year of a rebuilding project. At 50-41, Milwaukee is in first place at the break for the fifth time in franchise history, and the first time since 2014.

Most of the key pieces from the 2014 team that collapsed in the second half were traded away or let go over the past couple of years, including Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez. The Brewers entered this season with a young, mainly unproven roster surrounding outfielder Ryan Braun and second baseman Jonathan Villar.

The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs were expected to roll to another division title. But the Cubs have struggled, as have another perceived contender, the St. Louis Cardinals. Those teams are tied for second behind Milwaukee (see full story).

Phillies set date for Jake Arrieta's regular season debut

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Phillies set date for Jake Arrieta's regular season debut

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies have announced their plan for Jake Arrieta.

He will make his regular season debut on April 8 at Citizens Bank Park against the Miami Marlins.

That is a Sunday afternoon game.

Arrieta has a career ERA of 3.28 in day games as opposed to 3.77 in night games. Opposing batters have hit just .214 against him over his career in day games.

“He loves pitching in day games,” manager Gabe Kapler said in announcing the plan for Arrieta, who signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies on March 12.

Even though Arrieta showed up to camp in excellent shape and had been throwing on his own, the Phillies had promised to be cautious in getting him ready for the regular season. Arrieta will start on Tuesday in Clearwater then pitch again on April 2, probably against minor leaguers in Clearwater, before his debut against Miami.

Arrieta had hoped to pitch during the first week of the season. The way things line up, he will miss just one start. The Phillies could stash him on the disabled list as he builds arm strength until they activate him before the April 8 game.

“Jake’s on board with this,” Kapler said. “He’s such a competitive dude, he wants to get out there immediately. But he has a strong understanding of the long view and what will keep him healthy and strong over the whole season and through the next three or four years. He understood that the best thing for his body is to build up a little more and get a nice slow, easy ramp and come out firing for us on April 8 against the Marlins.”

Arrieta has made four lifetime starts against Miami. He is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in those games. Over 26 innings, he’s allowed four runs and 16 hits while walking four and striking out 26.

Aaron Nola will start on opening day. The order of the rotation is unclear after that, though the Phillies could get by with four starters until Arrieta is ready. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez will be in the rotation. Zach Eflin, Ben Lively or Drew Hutchison could round out the rotation during the first seven games. Lively or Hutchison could also work out of the bullpen.

Lively will start against the Orioles on Sunday.

Francisco Rodriguez released by Phillies

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Francisco Rodriguez released by Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Francisco Rodriguez’s bid to revive his career with a spot in the Phillies’ bullpen ended Saturday when he was granted his unconditional release by the club.

Rodriguez, who ranks fourth all-time in saves, signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies shortly before camp began. He pitched to a 5.40 ERA in 6 2/3 innings and was tagged for 11 hits.

Rodriguez, 36, was released twice last summer, first by Detroit and then by Washington.

This might be the end of the road for Rodriguez. If it is, he had a tremendous career. He racked up 437 saves and was a six-time All-Star in 16 seasons. Only Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith have more saves.

While Rodriguez’ time in a Phillies uniform will go down as a footnote to his career, he did have the best quote of the spring early in camp.

“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.”