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#pounditSaturday, August 15, 2020

Baseball

Giancarlo Stanton could miss up to a month with hamstring injury

It’s looking like another injury-hit season for Giancarlo Stanton.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced Tuesday that Stanton is suffering from a Grade 1 hamstring strain, and will likely be out for 3-to-4 weeks.

Once again, Stanton won’t get a full season in. After playing in 158 games in his first year in New York, various injuries limited him to just 18 appearances in 2019. He also had calf trouble during spring training. Now, missing nearly a month of an already shortened season will be a fairly significant blow for both Stanton and the Yankees.

Making matters worse is the fact that Stanton was off to a fairly strong start to 2020. The 30-year-old is hitting .293 with 3 home runs in 14 games. The good news is, barring any setbacks, the Yankees should have him back well in advance of the postseason.

MLB hands down suspensions from fight between A’s, Astros

Astros As fight

Major League Baseball on Tuesday handed down disciplinary action stemming from Sunday’s altercation between the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros, and it was a coach who received by far the harshest penalty.

A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano, who went after the Houston dugout after he was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, has been suspended for six games. Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron was hit with a 20-game suspension, according to multiple reports.

Laureano abruptly charged at the Astros dugout after being hit by a pitch in the 7th inning. He later revealed that Cintron instigated the altercation by making a derogatory remark about his mother, and it seems as though MLB confirmed Laureano’s account.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes that Cintron’s suspension is the largest ever levied against an MLB bench coach.

Reports: MLB considering bubble for postseason

Rob Manfred

The “bubble” setups of the NHL and NBA have worked successfully so far, and MLB would like to follow their lead if possible in order to give the postseason a best chance of taking place uninterrupted, according to reports.

Both the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin and ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Monday that MLB is considering a bubble for the postseason. Such a bubble scenario would limit travel and possibly restrict player movement, which would give a higher chance of a successful postseason.

Though MLB originally considered the possibility of a bubble, the logistics were difficult to pull off due to the amount of people who would need to be involved, which is much more compared to the amount of players on an NHL or NBA roster. Additionally, many top players like Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw voiced opposition to being in a bubble away from their family for an extended period of time and seemingly rejected the idea.

But MLB has seen what has happened when COVID-19 outbreaks hit the Miami Marlins, who did not play for eight days, and the St. Louis Cardinals, who have not played since July, and recognizes an outbreak in the postseason would be highly problematic.

Passan says a bubble could take place in Southern California where there are two MLB stadiums nearby (Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Angel Stadium 30 miles away in Anaheim). NL teams could stay in one LA hotel and play at Dodger Stadium, while AL teams do the same in Orange County and play at Angel Stadium. Petco Park could even be used if needed for the first round of the playoffs since there would be eight series taking place and host two of the series. The other advantage of Southern California is that the weather likely would be nice enough for baseball to be played, and it could limit the spread of the virus.

Other regions could also be considered for this kind of setup, such as New York and Chicago, which both have two MLB teams.

Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres reportedly talking contract extension

Fernando Tatis Jr

Fernando Tatis Jr. has come on like a star in his first two seasons in the league, and the San Diego Padres would likely want to lock him up as long as possible. The two sides may even be working towards that outcome.

Tatis’ father, Fernando Tatis, says that his son and the team have had conversations about an extension, according to Luis Morales. The elder Tatis also says that he thinks a long-term contract will happen soon.

Tatis Jr. suffered a back injury that limited him to 84 games last season. He still batted .317/.379/.590 with a .969 OPS during that time.

This year, the 21-year-old shortstop is putting up crazy numbers. He is batting .333/.417/.810 with a 1.226 OPS. He already has eight home runs in 16 games, which is incredible. The Padres probably would want to have him under contract for as long as possible, before he starts putting up even more ridiculous numbers.

Mike Clevinger also went out with Zach Plesac, now quarantining

Mike Clevinger

The Cleveland Indians are now having to quarantine a second member of their pitching staff for breaking health and safety protocols.

The team released a statement on Monday revealing that right-hander Mike Clevinger violated team rules during their weekend roadtrip to Chicago and has been instructed to quarantine. Clevinger will now miss his scheduled start on Tuesday against the Cubs back in Cleveland.

Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that Clevinger went out with teammate Zach Plesac on Saturday night and then flew with the Indians on Sunday. Plesac did not travel with the team, having been sent home via car service on Sunday after his participation in the excursion was discovered.

The Clevinger news is especially troublesome since he, unlike Plesac, had direct contact with the team’s traveling party after the outing. Multiple MLB clubs, including the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals have already suffered outbreaks, so the Indians will obviously take this matter seriously.

Ramon Laureano calls Alex Cintron a ‘loser’

Astros As fight

Ramon Laureano lost his cool after being hit by a pitch on Sunday and charged after the Houston Astros’ dugout, and the Oakland Athletics outfielder has confirmed that a derogatory comment about his mother is what set him off.

Laureano was hit by a pitch for the second time in the 7th inning, and he abruptly charged at the Astros dugout on his way to first base. Baseball writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz reported after the game that Laureano was enraged after Houston bench coach Alex Cintron made a vile remark about his mother, which Ortiz referred to as “fighting words” in Latino culture. Laureano shared more details of the exchange with ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Monday.

Laureano said he first made a motion toward A’s pitcher Humberto Castellanos telling him how to properly snap off a slider. That prompted Cintron to shout an expletive at Laureano, and Laureano says he responded with one of his own. Laureano says Cintron then “said in Spanish something you don’t say about my mother.”

“I regret charging him because he’s a loser,” Laureano said. “[A suspension] is understandable, but I hope it’s not that many games.”

Laureano insists he held no ill will toward the Astros over their sign-stealing scandal, but he says his parents are responsible for his MLB career and he has a very close relationship with them.

“Every day I wake up with the motivation to be with them,” Laureano told Passan. “They sacrificed their life for me. They made the tough decision to let their own kid go to the States by himself and follow his own dreams. I’ve been away from my family for 10 years. It’s tough to be away from them. Any chance I have to be with them, I feel like I’m in heaven. So for him to say that to me about my mom, it doesn’t sit well. I’ve got a fire inside me right away in that second.”

While Laureano will likely be suspended, Cintron should face disciplinary action as well. It may have been a matter of time before tempers boiled over with the way the series began, but Cintron escalated the situation. Multiple fines and suspensions could be forthcoming.

Madison Bumgarner placed on IL after second straight disastrous start

The beginning of Madison Bumgarner’s Arizona Diamondbacks career has been an underwhelming one, and now the pitcher is headed to the injured list.

The Diamondbacks announced Monday that Bumgarner has been placed on the IL, citing a mid-back strain. He was removed from Sunday’s start against the San Diego Padres after just two innings due to what was referred to as back spasms at the time.

This may offer an explanation for Bumgarner’s struggles this season, particularly in his last two starts. He gave up seven earned runs in 4.1 innings against the Houston Astros on Aug. 4, and was then tagged for six earned runs and four home runs in just two innings against San Diego. Bumgarner’s fastball velocity has been down significantly as well, averaging a career-worst 87.8 MPH according to Fangraphs. That’s a significant drop from the 91.4 mph average fastball he flashed last season with the San Francisco Giants. In total, he’s 0-3 with a 9.35 ERA in four starts.

The 31-year-old is in the first season of a hefty five year, $85 million deal with Arizona. The Diamondbacks will be seriously hoping his poor start is down to the injury and not a sign of things to come.