Fresh off capturing the American League Rookie of the Month award, Nomar Mazara was again a difference-maker in Monday’s victory over the Blue Jays.
Mazara slugged a go-ahead home run off of Gavin Floyd to lead off the top of the eighth inning Monday to break a 1-1 tie and then threw Michael Saunders out at the plate in the bottom of the frame with a laser from right field. It was a two-hit night for the young outfielder, and Mazara is now batting .333/.386/.486 with three homers and nine RBI in his first 19 big league games. Not bad for a guy who just turned 21 one week ago.
It’s really hard to see the Rangers sending Mazara down once Shin-Soo Choo (calf) returns, which could happen within the next couple weeks. He’s been the club’s best hitter over the last month and has played good defense, as well.
So what will the Rangers do? Choo undoubtedly has a regular role, at least against right-handers. If Texas does indeed also keep Mazara around as an everyday player, that would seem to leave Ian Desmond, Mitch Moreland and Delino DeShields fighting for at-bats.
Out of that group, DeShields could be the most vulnerable to lose his spot. The Rangers have already tried Desmond out in center field a handful of times and have also moved DeShields from the leadoff spot to the No. 9 spot, suggesting his role isn’t as set as it appeared to be coming into the season. DeShields had a couple hits Monday but may have hurt his cause more than helped it with an ill-advised baserunning blunder.
Ultimately, the Rangers could keep all of the aforementioned players pretty active, which should be doable since there’s a mix of right- and left-handed bats and some flexibility with the designated hitter spot. One thing is becoming clearer by the day, though: Mazara has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s big league ready, and he’s probably here to stay.
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What a Mes(oraco)
Those who avoided taking Devin Mesoraco in drafts this spring likely cited the worry about how he’d respond while coming back from hip surgery. As it turns out, it’s a new injury that looks like it will wreck his season.
An MRI taken Monday on Mesoraco’s ailing left shoulder revealed a torn labrum. The Reds haven’t said at this point how long the catcher will be sidelined or whether he will undergo surgery.
"I think it's just from hitting," Mesoraco said when asked how the injury occurred. "I don't think it was one instance. I think it was just from swinging."
Mesoraco has batted just .140/.218/.160 with no homers and one RBI in 16 games this season, but it’s certainly fair to wonder whether the shoulder has been a big factor with his struggles. Even if the 27-year-old chooses the rehab route – which is what he did initially last year with his hip – he’s surely going to be on the shelf for a long time, and surgery is a given eventually. A second straight lost season seems likely.
Fantasy owners looking to replace Mesoraco aren’t going to find much of an option in new Reds regular backstop Tucker Barnhart. The 25-year-old entered Monday as a career .248/.317/.322 hitter with four homers over 382 plate appearances at the major league level. Things weren’t much better in the minors, where he hit .260/.341/.356 with only 13 longballs across 1,636 plate appearances. Barnhart’s backup, Ramon Cabrera, is a defense-first catcher, as well. Fantasy owners are best off just avoiding this situation.
Surgery for Sandoval
Mesoraco isn’t the only notable player set to have his shoulder operated on, as Pablo Sandoval will undergo what appears likely to be season-ending left shoulder surgery in the next few days.
The specifics of the surgery still aren’t known, other than it will occur this week and be performed by Dr. James Andrews. More will be revealed after the operation, but Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe hears that the surgery will be “significant” and the "odds are against" Sandoval playing again this season.
It’s been a nightmarish season -- scratch that, a nightmarish two years – for Sandoval in Boston. He put up career lows across the board last season after signing a five-year, $95 million contract, batting just .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers across 505 plate appearances. The 29-year-old was dogged by continuing questions about his conditioning this spring, wound up losing his third base job to Travis Shaw and then went on the disabled list after going hitless in six at-bats.
Shaw has gotten off to a great start, hitting .322/.390/.533 with three homers and 17 RBI over his first 100 plate appearances, so Sandoval’s role was going to continue to be diminished even if he didn’t need surgery. A bigger question is what his role could be beyond this season. Shaw has a chance to establish himself as the long-term option at third base for the Red Sox, and Sandoval might not be a third baseman going forward, anyway, given his decline defensively at the position.
The designated hitter spot will be open for Boston next year after David Ortiz retires, and that could be a natural fit for Sandoval. However, will the Red Sox entrust that job to a guy who’s batted .242/.290/.361 over his last 512 plate appearances and who is coming off major shoulder surgery? A trade would probably be best for both parties, but it’s going to be next-to-impossible for Boston to talk another team into absorbing even a fraction of Sandoval’s contract. The two may be stuck with each other.
National League Quick Hits: Jon Gray struck out 11 over six innings but was saddled with a loss against the Padres on Monday ... Domingo Santana was scratched from Monday’s lineup with tightness in his right lat ... Jason Heyward sat out Monday with a sore right wrist and could miss a few more games ... Angel Pagan will miss a minimum of 4-5 days with a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring ... Bartolo Colon whiffed seven over eight shutout frames in Monday’s victory over the Braves ... Brandon Crawford had an RBI single and a three-run homer in Monday’s win over the Reds ... Ryan Braun could sit out Tuesday’s game with “general soreness” ... Gio Gonzalez tossed six shutout innings in Monday’s win over the Royals ... Matt Adams singled, ripped a solo homer and scored a pair of runs in Monday's win over the Phillies ... David Wright singled and smacked a solo homer in Monday's win over the Braves ... Ender Inciarte (hamstring) is expected to begin a rehab assignment soon ... Homer Bailey (elbow) said Monday that he expects to be shut down for 5-7 days ... Zack Cozart (knee) is not expected to miss much time ... The Braves designated Drew Stubbs for assignment ... Josh Ravin has been suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance ...
American League Quick Hits: J.J. Hardy will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks after being diagnosed with a small fracture in his left foot ... Khris Davis hit his fourth and fifth homers of the season in Monday’s loss to the Mariners ... Mike Trout finished 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBI in Monday’s loss to the Brewers ... Eduardo Nunez homered, walked and drove in two runs in Monday’s win over the Astros ... The Twins activated Trevor Plouffe (intercostal) from the disabled list following Monday’s game ... A.J. Griffin struck out nine across six frames of one-run ball in a victory over the Blue Jays on Monday ... Tyler Skaggs will be shut down from throwing for another week after being diagnosed with biceps tendinitis ... Carlos Gomez (ribs) did some baseball activities on Monday but missed a third straight game ... Kyle Gibson (shoulder) has resumed a throwing program ... Lance McCullers (shoulder) threw 62 pitches over 4 2/3 innings Monday in an extended spring training game and is expected to resume a rehab assignment this weekend ... Ervin Santana (back) is scheduled to throw 30 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday and could rejoin the Twins’ rotation Saturday ...