Monday, April 24, 2006

A Couple of Things

First, the free agent bidding cycle now ends at 6 PM SUNDAY. The 12 midnight Saturday thing wasn't working for me and, since there were some concerns with 10 PM Saturday not giving sufficient time to submit bids, this seemed to make sense. I thought about Friday, but this time allows for all but the Sunday night games to be played and you can set your rosters for the coming week.

Second, last year I mentioned that I receive regular updates on players as a Baseball HotSheet subscriber (there's a link on the right if you want to subscribe). I suggested sharing some of those updates and received no negative feedback to the idea. So, here's your first player update:

Headline: Loss of Lee shakes up Cubs

As you surely know by now, Derrek Lee suffered a broken wrist in a collision at first base on Wednesday and is expected to miss 8-to-10 weeks of action. With a .318 average, three homers and five steals, Lee appeared on his way to another monster season, and his loss is an enormous one for the Cubs.

Todd Walker has started three straight games since Lee's injury, two at first base and one at second. Walker was a semi-full-time player before this injury but will basically play every day now. When Walker is at first base, Jerry Hairston will usually start at second (provided he can stay healthy, which is never a sure thing with Hairston). John Mabry also stands to pick up some extra action with Lee out.

The big difference for Walker is that he'll probably get starts against lefties that he would not have otherwise.

Going on the DL

Eric Milton is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on Monday and will be placed on the DL. He will miss at least three weeks of action. The Reds plan to recall Elizardo Ramirez to start on Monday. Ramirez has 15 strikeouts and no walks in 16 innings for Triple-A Louisville this season and could get two starts this week.

The Rockies placed Todd Helton on the DL because of a stomach ailment that is still being diagnosed. Eli Marrero has started three straight games at first base in place of Helton. Ryan Spilborghs was recalled to replace Helton on the roster but probably won't play much.

The Angels placed Juan Rivera on the DL with tightness in his ribcage. So far, Tim Salmon, Edgardo Alfonzo and Maicer Izturis have picked up extra playing time because of Rivera's absence. Reggie Willits was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to give the team another outfielder, but he probably won't get much playing time.

The Blue Jays placed A.J. Burnett on the DL for the second time this season because of elbow problems. The team has decided to let Roy Halladay pitch on an extra day of rest on Friday, but it's not clear who will start against Baltimore on Thursday. Scott Downs is a candidate, as are minor leaguers Casey Janssen and Josh Banks. However, since both Janssen and Banks started for Triple-A Syracuse in a doubleheader on Sunday, Downs might be the best bet.

The Royals placed David DeJesus on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. In the four games that DeJesus has been out, Esteban German and Shane Costa have each started two games in center field.

After seemingly establishing himself in the lineup for the Orioles, David Newhan suffered a broken leg on Monday. He had been playing regularly in left field, and his absence has opened up more playing time for Corey Patterson, Nick Markakis and Jeff Conine.

The Angels placed Bartolo Colon on the DL with shoulder inflammation. Hector Carrasco has replaced him in the rotation.

Coming off the DL

The Padres activated Mike Cameron from the DL in time for Sunday's game. Cameron started in center field and batted fifth, though he may bat sixth when Mike Piazza is in the lineup. Ben Johnson loses playing time with Cameron's return.

Nomar Garciaparra came off the DL to start at first base for the Dodgers on Saturday, but he was not in the lineup Sunday. Nomar may be back, but there's no telling how long he'll be able to stay healthy. James Loney was sent back to the minors to make room for Nomar.

The Giants activated Armando Benitez from the DL on Wednesday. It was thought that Benitez might be eased back into the mix, but Benitez earned his first save last night. Tim Worrell will go back to setup work.

The Tigers activated Todd Jones from the DL after Thursday's game, and Jones earned his first save on Friday. However, apparently not wanting Jones to work on back-to-back days, the Tigers gave Saturday's save chance to Fernando Rodney, and Rodney converted. Save chances should be few and far between for Rodney with Jones back, but he may still get a few. Jones earned his second save on Sunday.

The Mets activated Kazuo Matsui from the disabled list. Matsui has started three of the last four games for the Mets, with Chris Woodward getting the other start at second. With Anderson Hernandez out for a while, Matsui should be relatively safe.

Mark Hendrickson pitched five innings in an extended spring training game on Saturday. Barring a setback, he's in line to come off the DL and pitch against the Yankees on Thursday.

The Marlins are hoping that Jeremy Hermida can come off the DL next weekend, so he could play as many as three games this week. Matt Cepicky started his third straight game in right field for the Marlins on Sunday after Chris Aguila had started the previous six.

Bumps and Bruises

Kameron Loe is battling a chest cold but hopes to be able to make his scheduled start on Wednesday.

Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup once again on Sunday because of his tender hamstring, and Beltran remains day-to-day. The only good news is that he pinch-hit on Friday, which obviously means the Mets don't expect to have to place him on the disabled list.

Huston Street was unavailable for the fifth straight game on Sunday and may not be available for the next series against the Rangers because of his chest injury. It's probably safe to count him out until at least Friday. Justin Duchscherer and Kiko Calero will get any save chances in the meantime.

Garret Atkins has missed the last two games with a virus. It is not believed to be anything serious.

Bobby Crosby strained his right triceps on Friday night and missed games Saturday and Sunday. He is expected to work out before Monday's game and could be available. The injury is not considered serious.

Jake Peavy is expected to make his start this week despite a bruised shin.

Craig Counsell missed his fourth straight game on Sunday because of a tight right hamstring. He's day-to-day, and Damion Easley has been starting in his place.

Luis Castillo has been bothered by a sore knee and missed his third straight game on Sunday. However, he was available for late-game defense, so after Monday's off day he could be ready to play Tuesday.

Esteban Loaiza left Sunday's game with a spasm in his upper back. The AP reported that Loaiza was clocked at only 80 to 82 mph on his fastball. If Loaiza goes on the DL, Brad Halsey, Kirk Saarloos and Joe Kennedy would be the top candidates to replace him in the rotation. Halsey is clearly the best pitcher in that group.

Marcus Giles (finger) and Edgar Renteria (side) were both out of Atlanta's lineup once again on Sunday night, but both could return as soon as Monday.

Rosters and Roles

The Cubs optioned Jerome Williams to Triple-A Iowa. Angel Guzman was called up to take his place on the roster and could start in Williams' slot on Wednesday. Guzman has given up 12 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings over three starts for Iowa this season, but in those innings he also allowed just 15 hits with 23 strikeouts and only three walks. If Guzman doesn't get the nod, Rich Hill could be recalled.

Jeff DaVanon seems to have established himself as an everyday starter against right-handers at the expense of Eric Byrnes.

Miguel Asencio will replace Zach Day in the rotation for the Rockies. We shouldn't have to tell you that you want no part of Asencio on your team - though both of his starts this week are at least away from Coors Field.

Brandon Phillips started his eighth straight game at second base for the Reds on Sunday and hit his third homer and drove in four more runs. Phillips has an incredible 17 RBI in just 41 at-bats this season. So long as Ryan Freel is in center field, Phillips can play second every day. If he's still hot when Ken Griffey comes off the DL, the Reds will have to figure out how to keep both Phillips and Freel in the lineup.

The Red Sox recalled Willie Harris from Triple-A Pawtucket, and Harris has started two of the last three games in center field. He'll continue to see regular action there until Coco Crisp returns in a couple of weeks and could provide some stolen base help in AL-only play.


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