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Monday, July 22, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

Report: Padres planning to promote three top prospects

Padres logo

The future is now for the San Diego Padres.

The Padres officially called up infielder Luis Urias on Saturday, and according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, top pitching prospects Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez are set to follow imminently.

Urias was the team’s No. 3 prospect at the start of the season, according to MLB.com. Morejon, a left-hander, and Baez, a right-hander, ranked No. 7 and No. 8.

There are a few possible reasons for these moves. The Padres are 4.5 games out of a wild card spot, which could be a motivating factor. However, the Padres have also been linked to some major trade chips, and some of these prospects would probably be discussed as part of a potential trade package.

Watch: Luke Voit takes fastball to face, tries to stay in game

A fastball was no match for New York Yankees first baseman Luke Voit, at least initially.

Voit took a 91 MPH Chad Bettis fastball to the face in Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rockies. Not only did Voit stay on his feet, but he managed to stay in the game for the remainder of the fourth inning. The ball glanced off his shoulder just before hitting him in the face, which may have taken a bit of the sting out of it, but not much.

With the Yankees up 9-0 in the fifth, though, they opted to take Voit out of the game, even though he looked to be fine.

Very bad things can happen when baseballs traveling at a high velocity collide with jaws. Luckily, it looks like Voit dodged that.

James Harden denies rift with Chris Paul

James Harden

The James Harden and Chris Paul partnership may be over, but Harden still wanted to set the record straight about their relationship.

Harden said Saturday that talk was a “rift” and that he has “nothing negative to say” about Paul after he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Despite Harden’s comments, it’s pretty clear he and Paul didn’t always completely see eye-to-eye. This had been pushed aside by Houston as normal behavior between two stars, but Harden probably doesn’t mind the fact that he’ll instead be playing alongside Russell Westbrook next season.

Report: Top MLBPA lawyer’s departure viewed as increasing threat of strike

Major League Baseball still has two and a half seasons to go before the expiration of their current labor agreement with the MLB Players Association, but a minor news item announced Friday could have significant repercussions down the line.

MLBPA lawyer Rick Shapiro departed on Thursday, and his exit has reportedly been viewed with some trepidation within the sport. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Shapiro was viewed as a dealmaker, and his departure raised concerns that a potential strike is more likely than previously feared.

The current labor agreement runs through 2021, but given the state of free agency and other issues, some players have been floating the idea for a while. A lot can change in two years, but there’s certainly some discontent right now. Whether that can be addressed in the next negotiation remains to be seen, but the fears are there.

Kyle Korver agrees to one-year deal with Bucks

Kyle Korver

Kyle Korver will be lurking on the perimeter in support of a new NBA superstar this season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Saturday that Korver has agreed to a one-year deal to join the Milwaukee Bucks, reuniting him with Mike Budenholzer, who coached him with the Atlanta Hawks.

Korver will provide perimeter firepower around Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose outside shot is still very much a work in progress. He had been previously linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, partially due to his experience playing with LeBron James.

Korver is a career 42.9 percent three-point shooter. The 38-year-old shot 46.7 percent last year, averaging 8.6 points per game as he split the season between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz.

Kenley Jansen admits to being ‘sick and tired’ of Dodgers’ bullpen criticism

Kenley Jansen

Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen struck out the side on Friday against the Miami Marlins, not allowing a single runner to reach base in the process. He admitted afterwards that there was a little bit extra behind it.

The Dodger bullpen was responsible for two lost games in their series against the Philadelphia Phillies during the week, with Jansen melting down in one of them. He admitted after Friday’s 2-1 win over Miami that he was tired of hearing the criticisms and answering the questions that came along with those struggles.

Jansen pitched through an injury when blowing a save in Philadelphia, ratcheting up criticism from both fans and his manager. The Dodgers will be playing in October, and the bullpen is viewed by many as their biggest potential weak spot. Jansen is tired of hearing it and made a statement on Friday; now some of his teammates may need to do the same.

Jake Odorizzi says he was ‘pitching in a rainforest’

Jake Odorizzi

The major heat wave that has plagued much of the country during the week hasn’t been fun for many, and that includes MLB pitchers.

Minnesota Twins starter Jake Odorizzi took the mound in 94 degree temperatures with humidity, and gave up two runs in the first inning as the Twins ultimately lost 5-3 at home to the Oakland Athletics. Odorizzi made clear that he felt the conditions had a lot to do with his early struggles, saying it was like “pitching in a rainforest.”

Typically when you think of weather issues impacting baseball games, it’s rain-related. Humidity can be a big issue for pitchers who rely on gripping the ball to get the job done, though, and that was the case here.

Report: Blue Jays expected to deal Marcus Stroman by deadline

Marcus Stroman

The MLB trade market is expected to be heavy on starting pitchers, and one of the best who is clearly available is currently with the Toronto Blue Jays.

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, multiple executives expect the Blue Jays to deal pitcher Marcus Stroman before the July 31 trade deadline. Stroman is signed through 2020, which means Toronto will likely demand enough value to cover a year and a half of pitching, plus a compensatory pick they’d receive for him if they lost him via free agency.

Stroman was a first-time All-Star in 2019 and has posted a 3.25 ERA, and has driven his value higher than ever. The Blue Jays could even package him with reliever Ken Giles in a major trade, but this appears fairly unlikely.