D.J. Short

Baseball Daily Dose

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Hanley Hurting

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One of the biggest mysteries of the early part of the season was finally answered Monday, as Hanley Ramirez revealed that has been playing hurt for an extended period of time. More specifically, Ramirez told Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post that the discomfort in his lower back and upper left leg is "the worst pain I've ever had in my life, in my career." In a word, ouch.

Ramirez said his back has been bothering him for "maybe a month." And while he wouldn't disclose the origin of the leg injury, remember that Bill Hall wiped him out on a takeout slide at second base in early April. It's rather surprising that Ramirez hasn't seen a doctor yet, but he said Monday that he'll likely go for an MRI if his symptoms persist over the next couple of days.

While we finally have at least a partial explanation for Ramirez's shockingly low .210/.306/.309 batting line so far this season, his quotes Monday suggest that he could soon be placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career. Hopefully some rest will get him back on the right path.

As fantasy owners cross their fingers for Ramirez, here are some more news and notes from around a busy Memorial Day in the baseball world.

- The sad slide of Joakim Soria continues. He blew his third straight save in Monday's loss to the Angels, giving him a 6.53 ERA and five blown saves over 22 innings this season. This, after blowing just three saves in 46 chances last year and three in 33 opportunities in 2009.

It's not clear if Soria's problems are physical or mechanical, but he volunteered to remove himself from the closer role following Monday's game. And as our very own Eno Sarris alluded to in Monday's Dose, 24-year-old right-hander Aaron Crow will handle ninth inning duties in the interim.

Crow, a 2009 first-round pick, has a 1.33 ERA and 26/9 K/BB ratio over his first 27 major league innings and should be considered a must-add in all formats. Soria could obviously get the job back if he finds himself, but he's the latest example of why you just never know with closers.

- What else can go wrong for the Twins this season? We're about to find out. Francisco Liriano was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday after he felt continued soreness in his throwing shoulder while attempting to play catch.

The good news here is that an MRI has revealed only inflammation in the shoulder, but this is just latest development in what has been a disappointing season for the 27-year-old southpaw. While Liriano threw a no-hitter less than a month ago, he has a 5.73 ERA and 34/32 K/BB ratio over his first nine starts while his velocity is down a couple ticks from what we saw last season.

Liriano will miss at least one more start, which means that Anthony Swarzak will fill in for him again Thursday against the Royals. Of course, Swarzak nearly threw a no-hitter in his place this past Saturday against the Angels. Don't go too crazy to pick him up in fantasy leagues, though.

- The time to buy low on Kelly Johnson is effectively over. He homered twice and finished a single short of the cycle in Monday's blowout win over the Marlins. While his batting average has sat under the Mendoza Line for much of the early part of the season, he is batting .390 (15-for-41) with five homers and 14 RBI over his last 10 games.

Despite his early struggles, Johnson still has nine homers and eight stolen bases over his first 51 games, which puts him on pace for the first 20-20 season of his career. He's known as one of the streakier hitters in the game, but is finally justifying his ownership in most fantasy leagues.

- Much to the chagrin of fantasy owners, regular at-bats for Mike Napoli have been hard to come by this season. Hopefully that's all about to change.

Napoli homered twice and drove in five runs Monday against the Rays and is 7-for-12 (.583) with four homers, two doubles and nine RBI over his last three games. The 29-year-old now has 10 home runs to go along with an impressive .936 OPS over his first 105 at-bats this season. Washington can't possibly justify sitting him right now, so look for his at-bats to come at the expense of the struggling Yorvit Torrealba, who is batting just .131 this month and .219 for the season.

National League Quick Hits: Jose Reyes was placed on the bereavement list Monday following the death of his grandmother in the Dominican Republic, but is expected to return Thursday …Roy Halladay earned his seventh win Monday against the Nationals, despite giving up three home runs for the 11th time in his career … Shane Victorino (hamstring) could return from the disabled list as soon as Friday … Matt Garza (elbow) threw off flat ground Monday and is expected to throw off a mound Wednesday … Jay Bruce finished a double short of the cycle Monday and currently leads the National league with 16 homers and 43 RBI … Josh Johnson (shoulder) is doubtful to be ready for the Marlins' previous target date of June 7 … Matt Holliday (quad) singled in his return to the starting lineup Monday … Pablo Sandoval (hamate bone) could begin a minor league rehab assignment as soon as Friday … Corey Hart (illness) returned to the starting lineup Monday, but left the game after five innings due to the heat … Justin Upton had the second five-hit night of his career in Monday's rout over the Marlins … Madison Bumgarner allow two runs over seven innings in Monday's win over the Cardinals and now has seven consecutive quality starts … Carlos Beltran went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored Monday after leaving Sunday's game with hamstring tightness … Brandon Beachy threw from the mound Monday for the first time since straining his left oblique, but is still likely a few weeks away … Alfonso Soriano was pulled from Monday's game with a strained left quadriceps muscle and may require a stint on the disabled list … Ike Davis flew to New York on Monday to undergo an MRI on his ailing left ankle … Cameron Maybin missed his third straight game Monday with patellar tendinitis in his right knee … Homer Bailey (shoulder) said Monday that he hopes to resume throwing off flat ground in the next day or so … Seth Smith (groin) went 1-for-3 with a walk Monday in his return to the starting lineup … R.A. Dickey (foot) will indeed start Tuesday against the Pirates … Chris Coghlan was dropped to eighth in the lineup for Monday's game against the Diamondbacks … Aaron Cook (finger) will make another minor league rehab start Thursday with Triple-A Colorado Springs, which means Juan Nicasio will stay in the rotation to start Friday against the Giants … Justin Turner went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in Monday's win over the Pirates and has an incredible 21 RBI over his first 28 games … The Philies optioned Vance Worley to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday … The Pirates placed Ryan Doumit on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a left ankle sprain … Cubs outfielder Tony Campana stole four bases in Monday's loss to the Astros … Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) is not expected to be activated from the disabled list when he's eligible Tuesday … Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Monday that he is not actively shopping Ivan RodriguezJeff Baker was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a left groin strain .. Kris Medlen (elbow) could begin facing live hitters this week …

American League Quick Hits: Bartolo Colon pitched his first complete game shutout since 2006 in a 5-0 win over the Athletics on Monday … Joe Mauer (bilateral leg weakness) went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Monday in an extended spring training game … Adam Jones was held out of Monday's game against the Mariners with a sore right shoulder … Jon Lester was smoked for seven runs over 5 2/3 innings Monday in a loss to the White Sox and won't make his next start until next Tuesday … Russell Martin was scratched from Monday's lineup with a sore toe … Elvis Andrus was spiked on the left foot by teammate Michael Young in the sixth inning Monday and isn't sure whether he'll play Tuesday … Grady Sizemore was given a scheduled off day Monday, but is scheduled to return to the lineup Tuesday … Howie Kendrick (hamstring) ran and performed agility drills Monday and could return from the disabled list this weekend … Evan Longoria is 5-for-11 (.455) with four walks, a solo homer and three runs scored since moving to the leadoff spot … Brandon Webb (shoulder) allowed five runs over 3 1/3 innings Monday in his first minor league rehab start with Double-A Frisco … Jason Kubel is day-to-day after leaving Monday's game with a sprained left foot … Jeff Niemann (back) felt "great" during a simulated game Monday and hopes to begin a minor league rehab assignment soon … Phil Coke (ankle) is on track to return from the disabled list next Wednesday against the Rangers … Daric Barton went 0-for-4 Monday against the Yankees, after which A's manager Bob Geren said he could be moved down in the batting order … Yankees manager Joe Girardi suggested Monday that Phil Hughes (arm) could return in early July … Gordon Beckham (eye) went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in his return to the starting lineup Monday … Adam Lind (back) had four at-bats Monday in an extended spring training game … After his relief appearance Saturday against the Blue Jays, Gavin Floyd's next scheduled start has been pushed back to Wednesday against the Red Sox … Matt Harrison expects to make his next scheduled start Thursday against the Indians, despite a blister on his left index finger … Tsuyoshi Nishioka (fractured fibula) went 0-for-3 Monday in his latest extended spring training game … Jim Thome (shoulder) went 2-for-3 with a walk in his return to the lineup Monday … Jed Lowrie missed Monday's game with a stiff left shoulder … Jo-Jo Reyes tossed his first career complete game Monday against the Indians, snapping a winless streak of 28 starts dating back to the 2008 season… Jake Arrieta is expected to make his next start Sunday against the Blue Jays, despite taking a comebacker off his left leg during Monday's loss to the Mariners … The Rays recalled right-hander Alex Cobb from Triple-A Durham to start Tuesday's game against the Rangers … Bobby Jenks (biceps) will be activated from the disabled list Tuesday … Casey Kotchman (ankle) was out of the lineup Monday, but is not expected to need a stint on the disabled list … Marco Scutaro (oblique) is scheduled to take live batting practice Tuesday … Brendan Ryan was moved into the No. 2 spot in the M's batting order Monday against the Orioles …

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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