Aaron Gleeman

Baseball Daily Dose

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The Other LaRoche

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Many people were quick to write off Andy LaRoche when he got off to a bad start in the majors, batting just .184/.288/.272 in 111 games between the Dodgers and Pirates. However, as awful as those early numbers were LaRoche's track record in the minors predicted long-term success and sure enough he finally appears to have gotten on track at the age of 25.

Pittsburgh showed patience when LaRoche started the season 2-for-22 and he's responded by going 47-for-139 (.338) with 16 extra-base hits in 40 games since, giving him a nice .304/.374/.435 mark overall. LaRoche may never develop more than 20-homer pop, but he's hitting for a nice batting average, getting on base at a good clip, and playing solid defense just like his minor-league stats predicted.

While the Pirates are rewarded for their patience with LaRoche, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Beginning the year with Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson in the rotation hasn't worked out especially well for Oakland, as the 21-year-olds have combined to go just 4-10 with a 4.93 ERA in 20 starts. Despite that manager Bob Geren revealed that the A's will call up 22-year-old Vince Mazzaro to make his big-league debut Tuesday against the White Sox.

Much like Cahill and Anderson, Mazzaro is a good prospect who likely isn't ready to thrive in the majors yet. Taken out of high school in the third round of the 2005 draft, Mazzaro posted ERAs of 5.05 and 5.33 at Single-A before going 12-3 with a 1.90 ERA in 22 starts at Double-A last season. However, at 22 years old with a 3.80 ERA and 71/26 K/BB ratio in 90 innings at Triple-A rushing him seems silly.

* An MRI exam on Grady Sizemore's inflamed left elbow revealed no structural damage, but Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff said Monday that he may still be facing surgery. Sizemore is expected to spend two weeks resting the elbow and getting treatment, but if he doesn't show significant improvement during that time he's a candidate for arthroscopic surgery that would sideline him for another 4-6 weeks.

* Edinson Volquez's return from the disabled list lasted all of one inning Monday, as he experienced numbness in several fingers on his pitching hand and exited after getting swinging strikeouts on Rick Ankiel and Jason LaRue. Volquez is set to be examined further Tuesday and had been on the DL for two weeks because of back spasms.

* Rich Hill struggled in his start last week, but bounced back Monday with seven shutout innings against the Mariners. Hill was one of my favorite sleeper targets this year because he still possessed big-time strikeout ability if the control issues that plagued him last season could be cured. Spring elbow problems delayed his Orioles debut, but he now has a 4.15 ERA and 22/12 K/BB ratio in 21.2 innings.

AL Quick Hits: Joba Chamberlain likely quieted some critics Monday by throwing eight innings of two-run ball … White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said Monday that he never talked to the Astros about Roy OswaltCoco Crisp will be away from the Royals for at least the next few days following the death of his great grandmother … Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder) threw eight shutout innings in a rehab start Sunday at Triple-A … Victor Martinez started at designated hitter Monday despite fouling a ball off his knee Sunday … Xavier Nady experienced elbow pain while playing catch Monday, but will try to throw again Tuesday as he attempts to avoid Tommy John surgery … Jarrod Washburn lost his duel with Hill despite slicing his ERA to 3.22 with seven innings of one-run ball … John Smoltz (shoulder) allowed one run over five innings in a rehab start Sunday at Single-A.

NL Quick Hits: Carlos Beltran was once again scratched from the lineup Monday with a stomach virus … Jose Valverde (calf) tossed a 25-pitch bullpen session Monday and is scheduled to do so again Wednesday … Kyle Lohse (forearm) reported no problems following a bullpen session Sunday and is on track to start Wednesday … Aramis Ramirez (shoulder) said Monday that he's still hoping to rejoin the Cubs after the All-Star break … Anibal Sanchez (shoulder) is slated to come off the disabled list to start Tuesday … Mike Cameron is day-to-day after leaving Monday's game with a knee injury … Ricky Nolasco pitched well Monday in his second start at Triple-A, allowing one run in seven innings … According to Jerry Manuel, Jose Reyes (calf) could come off the DL as soon as Friday … Troy Glaus (shoulder) has been cleared to resume throwing … Hiroki Kuroda came off the shelf Monday with five solid innings against Arizona, allowing two runs.


Aaron Gleeman is Rotoworld's senior baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. Also find him at AaronGleeman.com and on Twitter.
Email :Aaron Gleeman



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