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Thome hopes to come back soon

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Thome hopes to come back soon

Jim Thome turns 42 next Monday. Maybe hell celebrate his birthday in Sarasota, Fla. Perhaps hell be in Bowie. Could it be possible that hell be back with the Orioles?No, he wont be ready to play with the Orioles in six days, but Thome has apparently made an encouraging recovery from a herniated disc.Thome reported neck spasms on July 28, and three days later was put on the disabled list. He was told to rest for 30 days, but after staying with the Orioles for several days and returning to his Illinois home for several more, hes feeling better.Manager Buck Showalter said that hell be reporting to Sarasota to continue his rehabilitation on Wednesday.As Thome pointed out when he announced his month-long shutdown, it doesnt take long for a designated hitter to get ready. He doesnt have to readjust to fielding and throwing, and hes not an especially fast runner.After a few days in Sarasota, Thome should be ready for rehab, and realistically, he could be ready to return around the time the rosters expand on Sept. 1.If Thomes still on the DL on Sept. 1, hes still eligible for postseason play.Thome has played just 18 games with the Orioles since being acquired on June 30. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, hes played just seven of them at home.When Thomes injury was revealed, I shuddered. I feared his career might be over. At 42, its highly questionable whether he plays next year. In a short time, Thome has ingratiated himself with the Orioles. There are the many in-game chats with manager Buck Showalter. How many times have you seen shots of Thome on the road talking with Showalter during a game.Showalter deeply respects Thome, and its obviously mutual. Hes asked his opinion on players and situations, and lots of times, Thome drops by Showalters office to discuss game situations.Not every one of Thomes clubhouses were as placid as this one. His salad days were spent in a volatile Cleveland clubhouse with lots of controversial players. Thome was the adult.He was miserable in Philadelphia this year. He wasnt playing much because of the lack of the DH, and it was obvious early this season that the Phillies were no longer a powerhouse. On to Baltimore. His arrival was a happy one. He ambled into the interview room two hours before his first game and instead of sitting stiffly behind the podium as so many others do, he pivoted to his right. His positive, welcoming body language was a nice sign. So were his earnest answers.The always creative Showalter asked Thome to scout wunderkind Dylan Bundy at Bowie last week. He eagerly agreed, sitting in the stands with Tripp Norton, the teams Director of Administration and longtime area scout Dean Albany. After several innings he returned to Oriole Park for the remainder of the Orioles game.Thome enjoyed the experience, but cautioned that it wasnt a precursor to a career in coaching, managing or the front office. When he stops playing, Thome wants to spend some time with his small children.It would be difficult imagining the Orioles handing Thome a major league contract for next season. It would be equally difficult imagining him accepting a minor league deal.There isnt much demand for 42 year-old fulltime designated hitters, even one with 611 home runs.In his seven home games in Baltimore, Thome hasnt hit a home run. His two with the Orioles came on the road.It would be a treat for Oriole Park fans to get perhaps another month of Thome. There are still 21 home games remaining, and if he has an important home run or two left, it would be fun to see him hit them at home.Even if Thome says he wants to spend time at home before considering a coaching or managing career, he seems like the ideal hitting instructor.He reports hours early for games, studies and works out. Thome is knowledgeable and approachable. As a potential manager, he might find it hard to be critical, but thats for later.This future Hall of Famer doesnt act if hes the seventh-leading home run hitter of all time. Theres no apparent ego. Hes welcoming and polite to reporters. After covering dozens of forgettable players, I find myself rooting for this one. Hopefully, Thome comes back soon and plays perhaps a final monthor maybe a little more.

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado took an even larger lead in the latest update for 2018 MLB All-Star Game voting.

The superstar shortstop maintained his position at the top of American League shortstops in the second round of All-Star voting updates, released Tuesday morning. 

After the first ballot was released, Machado led the shortstops category by over 100,00 votes.

This week, he now holds north of a 200,000-vote lead over last year’s American League starter, Carlos Correa.

The Astros’ Correa jumped from fourth to second this past week while the Indians’ Francisco Lindor dropped to third.  

Machado now has 671,133 votes, seventh among all American League players. For the second straight week, Machado remained the only Orioles player on the list.

Through 69 games in 2018, Machado is batting .310 with 18 home runs, 15 doubles and 53 RBIs. He is posting his best OPS (.945) and on-base percentage (.377) in his career, a bright spot for the O’s, who sit dead last in MLB with a 20-50 record.

The All-Star voting will be open until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and fans can vote five times every 24 hours.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 26.

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