Phillies

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).

Bryce Harper plays MLB The Show 19 on NBC's 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'

Bryce Harper plays MLB The Show 19 on NBC's 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'

With the Phillies in New York this week playing a drama-filled series against the Mets, Bryce Harper paid a visit to NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

Harper's segment aired Wednesday night, a little over an hour after Rhys Hoskins purposefully strolled around the Citi Field bases following a statement home run off of Mets pitcher Jacob Rhame (see story).

So it's fitting Harper and Fallon duked it out in a Home Run Derby on MLB The Show 19, the video game in which the Phillies' 13-year, $330 million man dons the cover.

Fallon tried rattling Harper. Not happening.

"You suck, you suck, you suck," Fallon said in the slugger's face.

"That's fine," Harper said. "I heard it a lot worse last night."

Fallon used Aaron Judge in Yankee Stadium … no advantage there.

Harper went with the sly move of knocking the controller out of Fallon's hands.

It sort of worked.

Ultimately, Harper's visit to Fallon was not victorious. But it did go better than Gritty's trip.

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Rhys Hoskins, Phillies get their retaliation against Mets in an even more satisfying way

Rhys Hoskins, Phillies get their retaliation against Mets in an even more satisfying way

NEW YORK — Roman Quinn's groin strain aside, the Phillies needed a night like this. 

They blanked the Mets, 6-0, Wednesday for their first shutout win of the season (see observations).

They finally cashed in with runners in scoring position to break the game open, something they failed to do for most of their 2-5 road trip through Colorado and New York.

They got a strong starting pitching performance from Vince Velasquez and solid work from four different relievers who took down an inning apiece.

And they had their dramatic moment late in the game when Rhys Hoskins exacted revenge on fringe major-league pitcher Jacob Rhame 24 hours after seeing two high-90s fastballs whiz past his head. Hoskins took Rhame deep to left field ... and then took his time strolling the bases.

Hoskins' trot around the bases needs to be seen in entirety to fully appreciate.

"Oh yeah, I enjoyed the moment," he said postgame. "I just enjoyed the moment. I think to put an exclamation point on a win like that when we really needed it, I think that's what everyone in here is most excited about."

The situation was reminiscent of Chase Utley vs. Jonathan Sanchez in San Francisco in the summer of 2009. Sanchez threw a ball over Utley's head, earned a glare from the stoic second baseman, and Utley homered a few pitches later.

"If a ball goes over your head the night before, the best way to get back at the pitcher is to put the ball in the seats," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think it was worthy of Rhys having that moment and soaking it all in. He deserved that. He earned it."

Did Hoskins care that the Mets may take offense? Hoskins isn't one for one-word answers, but he was in this case.

"No," he said flatly.

Does he care that there seems to be some bad blood brewing between the Phillies and Mets?

"I think that's what a rivalry is," he said. "I think there's always going to be a little bit of bad blood in a rivalry."

The home run was Hoskins' seventh of the season. It gave the Phillies the last word in a series they lost, and it gives the Mets a little something to chew on during the two-month period before these teams meet again.

The Quinn injury was a sour subplot on an otherwise cathartic evening for the Phillies. He strained his groin legging out a perfectly executed safety squeeze, which enabled the Phillies to expand their lead in the eighth inning. The guy just can't catch a break. Injury after injury. On top of the 3-for-25 start to the season, which included 14 strikeouts.

"I ran out there and I just couldn't believe it," Kapler said of watching Quinn get hurt again. "He's worked so hard to get back. I really feel for Roman. It's nothing he's doing. His body's just not responding. We keep thinking about different ways we can keep him healthy and all he wants to do is get going and stay going. It's tough. I really want the best for Roman."

The Phillies over this last week dealt with injuries, flat offensive performances, a blown extra-inning lead with one strike remaining, an ejection to their best player and two near misses on beanballs. It all came without the respite of an off day. 

"This was a long, hard road trip," Kapler understated. 

Now the Phillies come back home to take on the Marlins for four games. Success against the Marlins may determine this tight NL East. The division has played out as expected through the season's first month. The Phillies, Mets, Braves and Nationals are separated by 1½ games and the Marlins are already 10 games under .500.

Between the Marlins series, an off-day Monday, two games with the offensively-challenged Tigers and another off-day, the Phillies have a chance to quickly put the frustrations of this road trip behind them. If they take care of the business they should take care of.

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