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New York Mets: Jason Bay Just Can’t Catch a Break

Here we go again, Mets fans.

Today the New York Mets (9-8) placed left fielder Jason Bay and starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey on the disabled list.

Bay suffered a non-displaced fracture of a rib on his left side while attempting a full-extension catch in Game 2 of Monday’s doubleheader with the San Francisco Giants.

Bay did a face plant into the ground after making a diving attempt at the ball. He left the game in the eighth inning. X-rays Monday night were negative, but Bay described his rib area as “sore,” and said he was not breathing normally.

There is no timetable for Bay’s return. An MRI exam administered Tuesday morning at Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery revealed the extent of the injury. According to reports, Bay will do nothing more strenuous than ride a stationary bike until the pain in his ribcage subsides.

“I knew it hurt pretty well,” Bay told reporters after the game. “I was hoping, best case, that it was a bruise. I got up this morning and the way it was feeling, if it was a bruise, it was a pretty good one.”

Bay had rebounded from a weak start to hit .290 with all three of his home runs since April 13. He was 5-for-15 over his past five games, reaching base more than 44 percent of the time and significantly reducing his strikeout rate (seven strikeouts in his last eight games; ten strikeouts his first seven).

It is hard not to feel bad for Bay. The 33-year-old’s rib fracture is the latest of several significant injuries he has endured since joining the Mets two years ago on a four-year, $66 million contract.

Most of them have been the result of bad luck. Bay suffered a serious concussion crashing into Dodger Stadium’s outfield fence in July 2010, then strained his left intercostal muscle last spring and began the season on the shelf.

After having as bleak a first two years in Queens as Bay did (18 homeruns), it finally looked like Bay was starting to turn the corner the last two weeks. Yet after another bad luck injury, it is hard to imagine that Bay can ever have a happy ending in the Big Apple. 

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The Boys of Winter: Are the 2011 Red Sox Theo Epstein’s Most Complete Team?

As the wrath of winter continues to rear its ugly head, Red Sox fans look forward to more than a reprieve from the cold and ice this spring.

In 2010, the Red Sox were crippled by injuries. Over the course of the 162 game season, Red Sox players endured over 1,000 days on the disabled list—over 250 days more than the major league average from last year. With 23 seperate trips, the Red Sox also finished the season with the most stints on the disabled list.

Despite an overwhelming amount of hardship, the Red Sox were nearly able to overcome their troubles. Racking up 89 wins, this put the them six games off the pace for the wild card and seven games back of the American League East champion Rays.

For the first time in years, interest in the Red Sox declined in Boston.

Though the consecutive home sellout streak hit the 600 game mark in 2010, both local TV and radio ratings fell as much as 36 percent. 2010 saw the first fall from the top local ratings in Major League Baseball in six years, dropping out of the top four.

Going into the offseason, it became crucial for Red Sox general manager, Theo Epstein, to build a team that would once again garner respect and interest throughout New England.

The Red Sox front office personnel were reported to be after a major trade and a significant free-agent signing before the winter was through. They delivered better than anyone in Red Sox Nation could have imagined.

First, news came of the acquisition of all-star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres. Next, the Red Sox swept in to outbid the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the signing of left fielder Carl Crawford.

With a newly stacked infield and outfield, and a starting rotation all under contract for the 2011 season, the one question remaining was the bullpen.

In 2010, Boston had the third worst bullpen in the American League with a 19-23 record and an ERA of 4.24.

To tackle this problem area, the Red Sox made two important signings to the bullpen. First they signed White Sox’ closer Bobby Jenks and soon after added Tampa Bay’s Dan Wheeler, who was coming off a season with eight strike outs per nine innings and an ERA of 3.35.  

With Jonathan Papelbon, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler and Daniel Bard rounding out the bullpen—and with young up and coming lefty pitcher Felix Dubront vying for his shot at becoming a big league regular—Boston should enjoy more stability out of the pen.

Boston also endured ups and downs with their starting rotation in 2010 as Josh Beckett missed significant time and was largely ineffective during his time off the disabled list. However, Clay Buchholz emerged as one of the premier starting pitchers in the American League, posting a 17-7 record and a 2.33 ERA. Meanwhile, Jon Lester, who again showed glimpses of his dominant abilities in the beginning of the season, ended the season with a few rocky appearances following the birth of his first child.

In his first season with Boston, John Lackey faltered early, but rebounded posting an ERA of under 3.90 in three of the last four months of the season.

Though the rotation didn’t live up to all the hype built up before the 2010 season, all five of the current starting rotation have shown themselves to have the potential to be dominant pitchers at the major league level.

With the acquasitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, Boston now also has one of the best fielding teams in the major leagues. Adrian Gonzalez has proven his fielding ability at first base for years and Kevin Youkilis will try to translate his tremendous glove skills at the hot corner. Dustin Pedroia is one of the best fielding second basemen in the majors and the middle will be rounded off with a spring training battle between Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro.

The outfield will be even better defensively. Carl Crawford is a perennial Gold Glove nominee and winner, often robbing hitters of extra bases with his blazing speed and Jacoby Ellsbury has also proved himself as one of the premier center fielders in the majors. The outfield will be rounded out by right fielder J.D. Drew, who despite a laxidasical nature, is a very underrated defensive player.

Finally, Boston is now home to a lineup that even the Bronx Bombers will envy. The Red Sox have seven former All-Stars in their starting nine. Their six players who played the entire season in the majors last year hit for a .288 batting average, 22.5 homeruns, and 77.3 RBI.

Though there is plenty of offseason left and a grueling 162 game season to be played, the Red Sox look to be in a good position to take home the AL East crown and make a deep run into the playoffs.

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Mother’s Day Recap: Washington Nationals Sneak Past Marlins

On a day to thank mom for everything she has done, the Washington Nationals attempted to give all the mothers of National Nation a present. Looking for the Nats’ sixth series win of the season, Livan Hernandez took to the hill at Nationals Park against the ever troublesome Florida Marlins.

Through five starts, Hernandez has been one of the biggest surprises in all of baseball. He went into Sunday’s action with a 4-1 record and an ERA of 1.06, good for second best in the National League.With a variety of arm angles and speed changes, Hernandez is keep batters off balance better than he has ever in his lengthy career.

Sunday was no different for Livan. In seven outstanding innings of work, Hernandez surrendered only five hits and one earned run; his only blemish coming on a hanging breaking ball in the sixth inning to Hanley Ramirez taken just over the right field wall for a home run.

With his mother in the crowd, Adam Dunn shined at the plate. Dunn knocked three hits including an RBI single to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead in the third inning.

The Nationals would hold this lead into the top of the eighth inning, calling on Tyler Clippard to bridge the gap to closer Matt Capps. So far this season, Clippard has racked up innings out of the bullpen at a pace that would make “everyday” Eddie Gordado proud.

Clippard got off to an inauspicious start, however, on Sunday. Coming on with a runner on first, Clippard quickly found the bases loaded after allowing a no out single and walk. With the go-ahead run standing on second base, Jorge Cantu stepped to the plate with a chance to change the game. Sending a high fly ball to left field, Cantu was able to tie the game with a sacrifice fly.

Clippard bore down and showed why he is an early candidate for National League reliever of the year with one out and runners on first and second. Striking out the dangerous Dan Uggla and retiring John Baker, Clippard shut the door on the Marlins in the eighth.

With one out and none on Josh Willingham turned on a hanger high in the zone, sending it into the visitors bullpen in the left center field power alley; putting the Nationals on top 3-2.

That’s where things would remain as Matt Capps came in and retired the Marlins one-two-three to pick up his National League-leading 13th save of the season.

With another series win under their belts, Washington is continuing to play strong fundamental baseball in early May. Though improbable, don’t count the Nationals out as a contender for the NL East crown come September.


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Stephen Strasburg Continues Dominance: Eyes on the Prize in Syracuse

On Friday night at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, NY, Stephen Strasburg made his first AAA start on his road to the big leagues. With a sellout crowd in attendance to see his Chiefs debut, Strasburg continued to show why he is rated by Baseball America as the top pitching prospect in baseball.

From the first pitch, it was clear Strasburg was far superior to his competitors. He displayed a healthy mix of velocity and location, hitting 99 mph on the radar gun while only walking one. Strasburg also featured a 90 mph change-up and a curve ball ranging from 80 to 85 mph.

Strasburg was perfect through the first three innings, retiring the first nine batters he faced. Despite a seeing eye single through the middle of the infield in the fourth inning, Strasburg was as good as Nationals fans could hope.

In six dominant innings, Strasburg surrendered only one hit and one walk. With only a handful of solidly struck balls and six Ks, it is becoming clear that the Nationals will pick up another solid starting pitcher sometime in June when Strasburg arrives in DC.

As if his dominance on the mound wasn’t enough, Strasburg also showed a proficiency at the plate. In his first AAA at-bat, Strarburg scorched a grounder into right-center field, driving in the first run of the game. To top it off, he added another RBI in his second at-bat, driving in a runner from third with a sacrifice bunt.

Boasting a much improved bullpen and starting pitching, don’t be surprised if the Nationals continue their strong start throughout the rest of the summer.

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