D.J. Short

Baseball Daily Dose

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Eat Your Hart Out

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

For someone who established new career-highs with 31 homers and 102 RBI last season, 2011 hasn't exactly gone as planned for Corey Hart.

Hart missed nearly the entire month of April with an oblique injury and entered Monday's action with zero homers and one RBI over his first 76 at-bats this season. However, with the help of some last minute tweaks to his batting stance with Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, the 29-year-old outfielder homered three times and drove in seven runs in Monday's 11-3 win over the Nationals.

Hart becomes the fourth player with three home runs in a game this season, joining Carlos Beltran, Jason Giambi and Jose Bautista. His three homers and seven RBI both tied franchise records. The last Brewer to go deep three times in a game was Geoff Jenkins during the 2003 season.

Hart admits he likely rushed himself back from the oblique injury, but the good news is that he's batting .273/.324/.515 over his first 66 at-bats this month and has found himself back in the No. 2 spot in recent days, a place where he enjoyed most of his success last season. It's been tough sledding for Hart owners in the early going, but hopefully Monday night is a sign of things to come.

While Hart reminds us to never surrender, here are some more news and notes from a busy day around baseball.

- Monday was the night of the returning slugger, as Chase Utley, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Jim Thome all played their first games back from the disabled list.

Of course, Utley's return was the most anticipated of them all since it was his season debut. Oddly, he was the only member of the starting lineup without a hit as the Phillies trounced the Reds 10-3. All I have to say is, bring back Wilson Valdez! Who am I kidding? I can't even make up problems for the Phillies. Everything's coming up roses.

As for Hamilton and Cruz, they both went deep in their first games off the disabled list. It was the first time they've homered in the same game since August 13 of last season. Hamilton was used out of the DH spot Monday night and it looks like he'll stay there for the next few days. Michael Young will continue to play first base and bat cleanup while Ian Kinsler has been moved back to his customary leadoff spot. Yep, that lineup just got a lot more potent.

And Thome, well, he continues to make history. The 40-year-old slugger returned from his recent back/oblique injury and launched two home runs in Monday's extra-inning loss to the Mariners. His 47th career multi-homer game moves him to 593 lifetime home runs. Not only is he seven home runs away from 600, but he's also 16 away from Sammy Sosa, who ranks seventh all-time with 609 career home runs.

- Edinson Volquez, who started Opening Day for the Reds, was sent to the minors Monday, one day after giving up seven runs (six earned) over 2 2/3 innings and throwing his teammates under the bus in the process. The 27-year-old right-hander has a 6.35 ERA over his first 10 starts this season and leads major league starters with 6.71 BB/9, so the Reds want him to work on his fastball command in the minor leagues. Volquez was never much of a control specialist to begin with, but keep in mind that he's not even two years removed from Tommy John surgery.

The Reds haven't announced who will take Volquez's spot in the starting rotation Friday against the Braves, but Mike Leake's scheduled start with Triple-A Louisville on Monday was shortened to two innings. He's worth stashing if you need help in NL-only leagues.

National League Quick Hits: Andre Ethier (elbow, back, toe) had a pinch-hit RBI single in Monday's loss to the Astros … Albert Pujols snapped a career-long 106 at-bat homeless streak Monday night against the Padres … The Braves placed Nate McLouth on the disabled list Monday with a left oblique strain and recalled Jordan Schafer from the minors … Adam LaRoche was placed on the disabled list Monday in order to rest the torn labrum in his left shoulder … Stephen Strasburg threw off the mound Monday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery … Johan Santana (shoulder) is expected to throw from a mound this week … Matt Kemp has 11 homers and 13 stolen bases over his first 49 games … Yovani Gallardo tossed seven innings of one-run ball Monday against the Nationals and has a 1.66 ERA over his last four starts … Danny Espinosa was hit in the right knee with a pitch in the ninth inning of Monday's loss to the Brewers … Kenley Jansen blew his first save in Monday's loss to the Astros … Brandon Beachy (oblique) was cleared to play catch Monday, but is unlikely to return until mid-June … Casey Blake (elbow) went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts Monday in his first minor league rehab game with Triple-A Albuquerque … Joe Blanton will receive a second opinion on his right elbow Wednesday from Dr. James Andrews … Brandon Lyon (rotator cuff) threw off flat ground for about 10 minutes on Monday, but is not close to returning from the disabled list … Jose Contreras' (elbow) scheduled minor league rehab appearance Monday was rained out, which could push his return to later in the week … The Padres demoted Opening Day right fielder Will Venable to the minors Monday … The Cardinals activated Skip Schumaker from the disabled list Monday and optioned Mitchell Boggs to Triple-A Memphis, where he is expected to work as a starting pitcher … The Braves signed Julio Lugo to a minor league contract … Erick Almonte (concussion) was struck in the face by a thrown ball during batting practice Monday for the second time this season … The Brewers claimed left-hander Daniel Ray Herrera off waivers from the Reds and optioned him to Triple-A Nashville … Gerald Laird was placed on the disabled list Monday with a fractured right index finger … Zach Duke (hand) gave up five runs over five innings Monday with Triple-A Reno and could be activated from the disabled list over the weekend …

American League Quick Hits: Alexi Ogando struck out six in his first career complete game shutout Monday against the White Sox … Dustin Pedroia jammed his left ankle in Monday's loss to the Indians and is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday … Jose Bautista hit his 19th home run of the season in Monday's win over the Yankees … Daisuke Matsuzaka will soon meet with Dr. Lewis Yocum to get a second opinion on his ailing right elbow … Howie Kendrick (hamstring) missed his fourth consecutive game Monday, but the Angels aren't ready to place him on the disabled list … Carl Crawford hit his second home run of the season Monday against the Indians … Asdrubal Cabrera went 3-for-4 with a home run and a go-ahead RBI double in a win over the Red Sox on Monday night … Joe Mauer (bilateral leg weakness) threw from a distance of 120 feet Monday, but isn't ready to play in extended spring training games … Matt Capps blew his fourth save in 11 chances Monday ... Adam Lind (back) could DH in an extended spring training game Wednesday … John Danks dropped to 0-7 with Monday's loss to the Rangers, but remains a prime buy-low candidate … Delmon Young exited Monday's contest against the Mariners with a left leg contusion … The struggling Nick Swisher was given a second straight day off Monday … Carlos Quentin (knee) was 0-for-3 with a walk in his return to the starting lineup Monday … Tsuyoshi Nishioka (fractured fibula) could begin playing in rehab games later this week … Brian Fuentes suffered his seventh loss late Monday night and criticized Athletics manager Bob Geren following the game … Chris Davis was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on Monday as the Rangers welcomed Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz back from the disabled list … Magglio Ordonez (ankle) will rejoin the Tigers on Friday in order to participate in pregame workouts … John Lackey (elbow) is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session Tuesday … Conor Jackson made his first major league start at third base Monday as Kevin Kouzmanoff was unavailable with a right groin strain … Bartolo Colon was smoked for six runs on seven hits and four walks over six innings in Monday's loss to the Blue Jays … Jack Cust hit his first home run of the season in Monday's extra-inning win over the Twins … Michael Cuddyer left Monday's game against the Mariners after seven innings with right hip tightness … Bobby Jenks (biceps) threw 25 pitches Monday in a bullpen session … An MRI on Kevin Slowey's abdominal area came back clean, but the Twins are considering sending him to Triple-A Rochester to work as a starting pitcher … Marco Scutaro (oblique) has not been cleared to begin taking batting practice …. Phil Coke suffered a right ankle injury in Monday's start against the Rays … Elliot Johnson is expected to miss a few days with a sprained left knee … Guillermo Moscoso will take the place of the injured Tyson Ross in the starting rotation Tuesday against the Angels …

Rotoworld's Hall of Famer
This morning the Fantasy Sports Trade Association announced its three newest Hall of Fame members which included Rotoworld's Rick Wolf.

Wolf's bio: Wolf's impact on the fantasy sports industry has been felt over four different decades, beginning with his time at Prodigy helping to produce the first online fantasy sports game to his work today at NBC Sports Digital where he heads business development, creating partnerships for NBC-owned business including Rotoworld.com. In between, Wolf was the first Fantasy Sports GM at Sportsline.com. It was there that he created the partnership with Commissioner.com that led to the building of the CBS Sportsline fantasy suite and paved the way for relationships with the NFL and MLB. Wolf later served as an Executive VP at AllStar Stats, Inc., which was purchased by NBC Universal. He is a founding FSTA board member, serving as chairman from 2002-06, as well as a former chairman of the FSA.

Wolf will enter the Hall of Fame along with Peter Schoenke and Bill Winkenbach. Rotoworld wouldn't be where it is today without the tireless efforts of Wolf as he continues to work to help grow and improve the site on a daily basis.

D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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