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Way to go, kid! Young enjoys little brother's HR

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Way to go, kid! Young enjoys little brother's HR

Dmitri Young might have been the happiest fan at Comerica Park on Tuesday night.

The former Tigers designated hitter had a good view of his little brother Delmon's home run during Detroit's 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the AL championship series.

Watching Delmon play in Detroit for the first time, Dmitri, 12 years older than his brother, was in the 25th row behind home plate. He captured video of the solo shot, starting with the crack of the bat.

``I put my phone up and bam!'' Young said with an ear-to-ear grin later in the game. ``I'm real proud of him.''

Dmitri Young, 39, was a two-time All-Star who played in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit (for five seasons) and Washington from 1996-2008. He was a career .292 hitter with 171 homers, 301 doubles and 683 RBIs.

The elder Young was the 2007 NL comeback player of the year after bouncing back from personal, professional, legal and substance-abuse problems to hit a career-best .320 and become an All-Star for the second time.

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MAKING IT WRIGHT: Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright is coming off one of the worst starts of his career. Still, he said it had nothing to do with end-of-the-year fatigue in his first season since missing all of 2011 following Tommy John surgery.

Wainwright allowed six runs over 2 1-3 innings in falling behind Washington 6-0 in Game 5 of the NL division series. St. Louis pulled off a stunning rally and won 9-7, getting him off the hook.

Wainwright said part of the problem was location - three pitches left up in the strike zone in the first inning were hammered. Familiarity might also have been an issue, considering Wainwright faced the Nationals twice late in the season and in Game 1 of the NLDS.

``I may have fell into a pattern,'' he said. ``I may have gotten a little predictable there.''

The right-hander will get a chance to redeem himself Thursday night in Game 4 of the NLCS against San Francisco.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said he's seen no signs of wear and tear even though Wainwright, counting the playoffs, has topped 200 innings in his comeback season. He was 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA during the regular season.

``We've watched him close and those warning signs that we've been looking for really haven't jumped out,'' Matheny said. ``And we're going to continue to watch him close just like we do every other pitcher.''

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WHERE'S ROBBY? Robinson Cano ended the season on a torrid hitting streak that helped the New York Yankees edge Baltimore for the AL East title.

The playoffs have been an entirely different story.

Cano was hitless in 29 consecutive at-bats, a postseason record, before his ninth-inning single off Detroit left-hander Phil Coke in Game 3 of the AL championship series. The four-time All-Star was 1 for 14 (.071) through the first three games of the series and 3 for 36 (.083) in the postseason.

A striking slump for a guy who batted .615 over the last nine games of the regular season to finish at .313 with 33 homers and 94 RBIs.

``If you talk about one guy struggling in our lineup that might be the most shocking, it is definitely going to be Robby Cano,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday. ``He's run into some bad luck and at times he chased some pitches. But you hope the hit he got off a lefty - a lot of times you say a lefty gets a hit off a lefty, that's what's going to get him going. You hope that's it.''

Cano, a .258 career hitter in the postseason before this year, was hardly the only Yankees slugger struggling at the plate. New York was batting .200 in the playoffs, including .196 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees hit .182 while dropping the first three games of the ALCS to the Tigers.

Game 4 was postponed Wednesday because of a forecast for heavy rain and rescheduled for Thursday at 4:07 p.m. EDT.

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BUMGARNER OUT: Giants manager Bruce Bochy hasn't ruled out starting Madison Bumgarner again in the NL championship series. It won't happen in the next two games, though.

Bochy said after Game 3 that Tim Lincecum will start Game 4 and Barry Zito in Game 5.

``We feel it's time to get Madison a little break,'' Bochy said.

Bumgarner won 16 games for the NL West champs this season but has struggled mightily in the playoffs, with an 11.25 ERA in two starts. He lasted just 3 2-3 innings in Game 1 of the NLCS, giving up six earned runs in a 6-4 loss to the Cardinals.

``Well, I don't think I'm concerned to a point where we don't plan on using him,'' Bochy said. ``He's on the staff. He had a hiccup his first start, actually the last couple. He's getting out of sync with his mechanics a little bit.''

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SEASONED SKIPPER: Often criticized during an uneven regular season, Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been hailed in Michigan for making all the right moves during the postseason.

``When you're in a passionate town like we're in, and the people have so much passion for baseball, you are going to have to live with a lot of negatives and a lot of positives,'' Leyland said. ``You get both of them. You get positives and you get negatives and you have to learn to roll with that punch.''

Leyland deflected credit he's been getting to a pair of former managers on his staff, third base coach Gene Lamont and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.

``All three of us were with the Pittsburgh Pirates,'' Leyland said. ``It hasn't been easy in Pittsburgh. The economics were not good. They could not go out and get players.''

Leyland leads active managers with 1,676 wins in the regular season, a total that ranks him 15th on the career list.

He is managing in the playoffs for the third time with Detroit and seventh time overall in 21 years. Leyland led the Pirates to three consecutive NL East titles from 1990-92, left to lead the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship in 1997 - his first year with the franchise - was Colorado's manager for only one season and helped the Tigers reach the 2006 World Series during his first year in the Motor City.

``I am fortunate to have been around a lot of good people,'' he said. ``And, it all boils down to the same thing at the end: Get good players, you have a chance.''

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman nearing minor league rehab assignment

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman nearing minor league rehab assignment

Over the last few weeks, the Nationals have finally started to get healthy. Slowly but surely, they’ve added stars like Juan Soto, Trea Turner, and Anthony Rendon back to their everyday lineup, and the wins have followed.

If everything goes according to plan, they could be close to adding yet another potential impact bat. This time, it’s Ryan Zimmerman.

The first baseman, who has been on the Injured List since April 28 while dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, could begin his rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, according to his manager.

Zimmerman is getting closer to full health but is still experiencing discomfort while running. During batting practice Thursday, Zimmerman resumed baseball activities, and the plan is for him to run the bases before his minor-league assignment.

"If you're going to be out there playing, you've got to be able at least score on a normal base hit if you're on second, go first to third,” Zimmerman said Thursday. “You might not have to be 100 percent on all that, but you have to do normal, everyday activities, or you're not really helping the team.”

The priority in the minors will be playing nine full innings.

"I think the biggest thing with the rehab games is just getting on your feet for nine innings so the first time you're out there for nine innings isn't here, and you can play some games and make sure it doesn't act up,” the longtime National told reporters. “Because once you're activated and once you're between those white lines, it's game on. It's more I think for Davey [Martinez]. You don't want to put him in a bad spot. If he is managing without knowing if I have restrictions or without knowing what's going to happen, that puts him in a bad spot. That's not what you want to do."

Davey Martinez has rarely had his full complement of players in 2019. Zimmerman himself has already missed 47 games.

Of course, once he returns, the Nationals will have more decisions to make. Not only do the Nationals need to find a roster spot for Zimmerman (Gerardo Parra is a candidate to be the odd man out, despite some flashes in his time in Washington), but they also need to figure out the playing time.

Matt Adams has hit with a lot of power this season, and without the DH in the National League, is limited to first base, same as Zimmerman. Howie Kendrick has been the Nationals’ second-best hitter in 2019 and is one of the best surprises in baseball, but is also limited defensively. Kendrick has more versatility, but with Brian Dozier’s recent surge (and superior defense), the Nats will likely want to keep him there. And, of course, Rendon and Turner are entrenched on the left side of the infield.

It’s something Martinez will have to figure out, he’s already begun speaking with players about what the arrangement will look like.

For right now, it’s a problem for another day, but if Zimmerman’s rehab goes well that won’t be the case much longer.

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Nationals players believe extended safety netting is a ‘no-brainer’

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Nationals players believe extended safety netting is a ‘no-brainer’

WASHINGTON -- Visuals can change everything.

It’s happened across sports in different fashion. An issue is discussed or dismissed until a troubling incident is brought to life via video in front of everyone’s eyes.

That breaking point on extended netting arrived for Major League Baseball after Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. pulled a line drive into the stands May 29. The ball struck a four-year-old girl. But, it was Almora’s reaction, as much as anything, which made the reality so stark. He was stunned and moved to tears. The player’s reaction amplified the incident to a level which forced something to be done.

Steps will be taken at Nationals Park to prevent such an incident. The team announced Thursday it will extend the protective netting up the foul line during the All-Star break. It will end just short of the foul poles. Washington has a good window to complete the work because it goes on the road following the All-Star break. The Nationals’ final pre-break home game is July 7. They don’t return to Nationals Park until July 22.

“As players, it's something that we've pushed for and advocated for years now,” Sean Doolittle said. “I think as you see exit velocities that have continued to increase and these new stadiums that are bringing fans closer and closer to the action, you're seeing balls go into the stands at really, really high speeds. It's really scary. Max broke his nose the other day on a BP pitch that was probably 50 mph and these balls are going into the seats over 100 mph.

“So, I think, hopefully, It's a way to keep fans safe while bringing them closer to the action. As somebody that watches the vast majority of games from behind a screen or chain-linked fence, I can promise you get used to it really, really quickly. It doesn't hinder your view at all. You think the most expensive seats in the stands, they're right behind home plate. People look through a net. I promise you-you can still see the game and after five minutes you don't even notice that it's there.”

Ryan Zimmerman called it a “no-brainer.” Trea Turner wants fans to be paying more attention, in addition to the netting.

“You only have to pay attention to small snippets of the game,” Turner told NBC Sports Washington. “I just want people to pay attention. You can’t block everybody off from a foul pop that goes over the net, that can still hit people. You’re not going to foolproof it.”

Netting in Nationals Park will be thinner than the current netting, according to the team. It will also have sections which can be raised pregame in order to allow players to interact with fans.

The Almora incident was referenced in a letter from Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner announcing the extension. The Nationals were also witnesses to an Eloy Jiménez foul ball in Chicago which struck a young fan in Chicago on June 11.

“Jiménez hit a line drive really hard foul and I saw a girl looking towards me -- I don’t know what she was looking at but was kind of looking in the outfield direction, hit her in the side of the face,” Turner said. “I heard it hit her. What sticks in my head is when I heard the ball hit her. Not good.”

Washington becomes the second team to announce a planned extension. The White Sox were the first.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters in Seattle on June 5 he didn’t expect league-wide changes in netting this season. Manfred cited a range of reasons from ballpark framework to fan objections. In 2015, the commissioner’s office recommended teams extend netting to the end of the dugouts. Three years later, that task was completed. The next steps have slowly begun.

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