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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Baseball

Clayton Kershaw defends Yu Darvish ahead of return to Dodger Stadium

Clayton Kershaw

Yu Darvish will likely get booed when he makes his return to Los Angeles this weekend, but one ex-teammate does not think he deserves harsh treatment.

Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw spoke Friday on Darvish ahead of the Chicago Cubs righty’s first start at Dodger Stadium since giving up five runs in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series to sink the Dodgers’ championship hopes.

“People forget fast that we’re not in that position without him,” said Kershaw, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Fans have the right to boo players who don’t perform, there’s no doubt about it. I just think when you’re in here in the clubhouse with the team and you know everything we go through on a day-in, day-out basis and you know Yu performed really well up to that point, pitched two really big games to get into the World Series – against the Diamondbacks and the Cubs.

“We wouldn’t even have been in that position without him,” Kershaw added. “People forget that fast and I understand that. But to us, to me – he was a big contributor to us being there in the first place. That’s kind of how I think about it.”

Darvish, who was acquired by the Dodgers at the 2017 trade deadline, was with them for just a few months before leaving to sign with the Cubs as a free agent. That Game 7 implosion proved to be Darvish’s final game as a Dodger.

Kershaw wasn’t exactly thrilled about Darvish joining an NL rival, but he does not seem to blame the Japanese star for the ghosts of the 2017 World Series.

Prospect Casey Mize going on IL with minor shoulder inflammation

Casey Mize

The injury news on Casey Mize is much better than it could have been.

The Detroit Tigers prospect underwent an MRI on Friday that revealed minor shoulder inflammation. He will be placed on the injured list.

Mize left his start on Thursday for Double-A Erie in the third inning after experiencing discomfort.

Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Mize has been dominant this season in the minors. He has gone 8-0 with a 0.92 ERA across two levels in the Tigers’ organization. The right-hander is the top prospect in the Tigers’ system and one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.

Eight MLB players having disappointing seasons

Yu Darvish

We’re over two months into the MLB season, and things are really starting to take shape across the league. While we’ve been delighted by the performances of numerous star players, there are also some big names that have, for whatever reason, simply failed to launch in 2019 and have actually turned out to be detrimental to their teams.

Which key players aren’t doing enough this season? Here are eight who have disappointed so far.

8. Manny Machado, 3B, Padres

What Machado has meant to the Padres in terms of legitimacy makes up for a lot of on-field struggles, but he hasn’t really delivered at the plate so far for San Diego. The power has been there — he’s into double-digit homers — but his sub-.250 average would be the worst of his career to date. He’s adjusting to a new league and a ballpark that isn’t exactly hitter-friendly, so a bit of a learning curve was to be expected, but this is not what the Padres paid for.

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Stephen Piscotty has surgery to remove melanoma

Oakland Athletics outfielder Stephen Piscotty had to deal with a significant health scare that will lead to a brief absence from baseball activities.

The Athletics announced Friday that a routine spot check turned up a suspicious mole on Piscotty’s right ear, and it tested positive for melanoma. Piscotty underwent surgery to remove the melanoma, and is expected to miss about a week.

The statement notes that melanoma has a 98 percent 10-year survival rate, so it’s an extremely treatable form of skin cancer. That is evident in the fact that the A’s don’t expect Piscotty to be away for long.

Piscotty’s family has had to deal with some serious health issues in the past, and he pays tribute to his late mother whenever he homers. It’s great news that, in this instance, it hasn’t turned out to be serious long-term.

Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton stepping up rehab assignments

Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees are closing in on the return of their two star sluggers.

The team announced Friday that Giancarlo Stanton is stepping up his rehab and being transferred to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, while Aaron Judge will begin his own rehab assignment with the team as well.

The Yankees had been talking about a potential return for Judge in time for their trip to London. That’s still two weeks away, giving them plenty of time to make that a reality. Barring any setbacks, it seems likely that they’ll be able to make that target date.

Judge hasn’t played since April 20 with an oblique injury. Stanton is working his way back from a shoulder injury, and has only played three regular season games in 2019.

Shohei Ohtani becomes first Japanese-born player to hit for cycle

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani made history on Thursday night in the Los Angeles Angels’ game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Angels DH came out on fire against the Rays, slugging an opposite field 3-run home run in the first. He followed it up with a double in the third, triple in the fourth, and he added a single in the seventh to hit for the cycle as he began the game 4-for-4.

Ohtani became the first Japanese-born player in MLB history to hit for the cycle. The cycle was the second of the season in MLB and first for the Angels since 2013. He had the eighth cycle in Angels history and third at Tropicana Field.

Cycles are cool accomplishments in MLB, but let’s put this one in proper context.

A guy with All-Star-level talent as a pitcher who throws over 97 mph on his fastball also has the ability to hit for a cycle at the big league level, which is something many everyday players have never done. Hitting for the cycle showcases all-around ability as a batter — the ability to hit for power, contact, and the speed to run for extra bases.

How many All-Star-type pitchers can hit opposite field home runs like he can?

He is a truly special player.

Top prospect Casey Mize leaves start with possible injury

Casey Mize

Detroit Tigers top pitching prospect Casey Mize left his start on Thursday night with a potential injury.

Mize left the Erie SeaWolves’ game against the Reading Fightin Phils in the third inning following a mound visit from the team’s trainer and manager. Video shows the interaction between Mize and catcher Kade Scivicque that led to the staff being called out:

Mize had allowed one hit, one walk and no runs over 2.1 innings prior to exiting. He had struck out two.

The No. 1 pick in last year’s draft out of Auburn, Mize was 8-0 with a 0.95 ERA across two minor league levels this season. He made headlines by throwing a no-hitter in his Double-A debut.