Around the Major Leagues: 2013 Week 2

Pierce Jefferson provides updates on the major news across MLB during the second week of the season.

AL East

 

- First baseman Chris Davis of the Orioles took the first American League Player of the Week honors of the season after amassing four home runs, driving in 17 runs, and leading the majors in OPS (1.636).  Baltimore looks to repeat the success of last year, and Davis will be a major key in their efforts.

 

- Kevin Kernan of the New York Post examines C.C. Sabathia's second start of the season here.  The lefty's velocity was still down around 90-91 miles per hour, but Sabathia befuddled Tigers hitters to the tune of seven scoreless innings.  The ace will alleviate concerns over his drop in velocity as long as he maintains this type of success.

 

- Cue the ‘A-Roid' jokes.  Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reported that a representative of Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez attempted to buy records from Biogenesis in an effort to destroy documents that held his name in connection with the purchase of performance-enhancing drugs.  A spokesman for Rodriguez immediately denied the reports.  MLB, in turn, conducted a similar transaction of its own with Biogenesis.  Stay tuned.

 

- Stephen Drew made his first start at shortstop for the Red Sox on Wednesday, taking the place of Jose Iglesias in the lineup.  According to the Boston Herald, Boston has had 28 players start at the position since Nomar Garciaparra was traded in 2004.  They hope prospect Xander Bogaerts stops the cycle in the next two years.

 

- Fenway Park's sold-out streak ended at 820 games (including playoffs) on Wednesday night.  Drew shouldn't look too much into that.

 

- Toronto's season isn't off to a fast start, and they won't be getting the help of starter Ricky Romero anytime soon.  Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun reported that Romero is still working on his delivery, trying to land properly and square up to the plate.  Brett Lawrie is close to returning, however, as the third baseman played in his third consecutive extended spring training game on Saturday, seeing time at second base.

 

- The AL East will be a tight enough race as is.  An injury to a significant piece of a team could drastically alter the projected standings.  The Blue Jays suffered a potentially crippling loss when shortstop Jose Reyes severely sprained his ankle in a sliding attempt at second base on Friday night.  Reyes could be out for up to three months.  Watch out for friends sneaking alterations to their AL East predictions.

 

AL Central

 

- Closer Addison Reed's first year as closer of the White Sox last season didn't go as smoothly as he would have liked.  This year, Reed is perfect in three opportunities, as he hasn't surrendered a run over five innings.  Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times likens his success this year to an improved slider.

 

- Chicago lost its starting second baseman for six weeks when Gordon Beckham fractured his left wrist during a swing on Tuesday.  Third baseman Jeff Keppinger will likely slide over to second base for the time being.  Beckham was hitting .316 through seven games, though his .649 OPS matched up with his poor results of the past two seasons.

 

- Two weeks into the season, Cleveland's starting pitching has a 4.47 earned-run average.  Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer outlines the rotation's early struggles here.

 

- Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco made his first start since August 3rd, 2011.  Carrasco had just finished serving a five-game suspension he had incurred in July of 2011 for throwing over the head of Kansas City's Billy Butler.  The right-hander proved that he learned the error of his ways by… plunking Kevin Youkilis with a pitch.  Second baseman Robinson Cano had belted a home run on Carrasco's previous pitch.  Though Carrasco denied any intention, MLB saw it differently as it dealt him an eight-game suspension.

 

-Manager Jim Leyland recently told the Detroit Free Press that he is comfortable using Joaquin Benoit in the closer role, though he did not rule out using other pitchers in that role should the need arise.  Meanwhile, former closer Jose Valverde worked out in Lakeland, Florida on Wednesday in attempt to make his comeback.

 

AL West

 

- So, what has the storyline been in Houston thus far?  Their new venture to the American League?  The intriguing new inter-division rivalry they have developed with the Texas Rangers?  No, the storyline has mostly been about strikeouts.  And lots of them.  Rumor is that the Astros have saved money by turning off the cooling system to Minute Maid Stadium.  The whiffing of all those bats has been most cooling for the fans in the park.  All kidding aside, Chip Bailey of the Houston Chronicle projects the current strikeout rate for some players here and it is… unsettling.  Astros fans may want to read that with an empty stomach.

 

- Angels fans cringed upon the announcement that ace Jered Weaver would miss four to six weeks following a broken bone in his elbow.  The right-hander suffered the injury awkwardly falling on his left arm after dodging a line drive.  Los Angeles is going to have to get by with a mostly mediocre rotation for at least a month, which is not going to help their slow start.

 

- Left-hander Matt Harrison of the Rangers landed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain.  Harrison will be eligible to be activated on April 21st.

 

- Seattle added another starting pitcher to their staff when they acquired Aaron Harang from the Rockies.  Harang posted a 3.61 earned-run average 179 2/3 innings for the Dodgers last year and will certainly give their rotation a boost if he is able to replicate those numbers.

 

NL East

 

- Want some more Justin Upton records?  If the answer was no, then too bad.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that Upton became the first player in major league history to hit five home runs in the first five games with a new team.  The left fielder also set a franchise record for most homers in the first five games.  Stay tuned for more Upton record-setting numbers.

 

- Evan Gattis has been a welcome addition to the Braves lineup.  Gattis blistered the ball in spring training and is now doing it on the major league level.  The Braves will seek plenty of opportunities to shift the power hitter to multiple positions in attempt to get him in the lineup.  Gattis has smacked four home runs through the first two weeks of the season while covering for injured catcher Brian McCann.

 

- Philadelphia's pitching is off to a poor start.  Well, that's putting it lightly.  Philadephia's pitching is off to a historically bad start.  That's more telling.  Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Enquirer found that only the 1931 Phillies allowed more runs in their first six games.  The 2009 pitching staff that sent the Phillies to a second-consecutive World Series was part of the bottom five, so it is a little too early to press the panic button.

 

- There is a silver lining with the poor start for the Phillies pitching staff.  Roy Halladay earned his 200th career victory with a solid start against the offensively challenged Miami Marlins on Sunday.  Halladay surrendered one run on five hits in eight innings.

 

- Anybody who thought the Astros would have the worst offense in baseball might want to think again.  The Miami Marlins have scored 20 runs through their first 12 games, by far the lowest in the majors behind the Tampa Bay Rays at 33.  Their team OPS is dead last at .539, as their best hitter in Giancarlo Stanton is homer-less through 30 at-bats and now injured.

 

NL Central

 

- Cincinnati came under scrutiny when they announced Shin-soo Choo would be playing full time in center field, a position he had fielded a grand total of 10 games in his major league career.  While Choo had two errors last year in 151 games playing right field, he matched that total playing center field in just one game against St. Louis on Monday.

 

- Reds starter Johnny Cueto was removed in the fifth inning of his start against the Pirates on Saturday with pain in his right triceps.  Cueto was seen visibly rubbing his right arm in discomfort and was subsequently taken out of the game.  The Reds ace is going on the 15-day disabled list.

 

- Carlos Marmol shouldn't feel too bad, as he was not the only closer to lose his role before the first week of the season had ended.  The Brewers announced on Monday that closer John Axford would be replaced by set-up man Jim Henderson.  Axford surrendered six runs in 2 2/3 innings and coughed up four home runs in the role.

 

- Axford may have lost his spot as the closer, but that did not stop the Brewers from putting him in a high-leverage situation on Tuesday night against the Cubs.  The right-hander loaded the bases in the eighth inning before being taken out of the game.  Alfredo Figaro allowed all three runs to score, as Axford took the loss for the Brewers.  Much to the chagrin of Brewers fans, the bullpen issues remain.

 

- Cardinals fans were dealt troubling news when a MRI revealed a tear in Jason Motte's ligament on Tuesday.  If Motte doesn't show significant improvement by May 1st, he will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the 2013 season.

 

- What comes to mind when thinking about the Cubs?  Ok, besides losing.  The curse of the Billy Goat is synonymous with the Cubs as hot dogs are to baseball.  On Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs received a package that was supposed to be delivered to Cubs owner Tom Ricketts.  The package turned out to be a severed head from a goat.  Needless to say, the Cubs staff never delivered the package to Ricketts.

 

NL West

 

- Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw won NL Player of the Week with two nearly perfect starts, though he also contributed with his bat by belting a home run.  The lefty absolutely dominated over 16 scoreless innings by issuing only one walk while fanning 16 batters.  Kershaw's name has popped up more often next to Sandy Koufax, and it's conceivable, even likely, that will continue long after his career is over.

 

- You made history, Matt Cain.  I doubt anybody actually told this to his face, however.  Cain became the first Giants pitcher in 111 years to surrender nine runs in an inning when he did it against the Cardinals on Sunday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

- The scene that captured the second week in baseball was a charging Carlos Quentin taking on Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke on the mound following a hit-by-pitch, which led to a benches-clearing brawl.  The Padres outfielder had been hit 96 times since 2008, the most in the majors, preceding yesterday's game.  The 97th time set him off in the worst way after he took a fastball on the left arm on a 3-2 pitch in a one-run game.  Quentin charged the mound after Grienke said something to him, as the pitcher threw down his glove and took him head on.  The biggest blow in the whole ordeal was the broken collarbone Greinke suffered, putting him out for at least the next month or two, though the right-hander could be out until sometime in July.  The loss of Greinke is a major blow to the Dodgers, who needed every start out of their number two starter to top the Giants in the division.

 

- MLB announced an eight-game suspension for Quentin following the brawl, one in which he immediately appealed.  The Padres face the Dodgers again on Monday, which likely contributed largely to Quentin dropping the appeal on Sunday.

 

 

Pierce Jefferson can be reached via email at piercerjefferson@yahoo.com. Follow him on twitter (@MLBPJ).

 

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