Drew Silva

Baseball Daily Dose

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Nothing Really Matusz

Friday, July 01, 2011

It's already July. The dog days of summer are right around the corner, as evidenced by the poorly-done Queen-inspired headline.

Soon enough Rotoworld's player news page will be littered with all sorts of trade rumors and speculation. Will the Mets retain Jose Reyes? Where is Carlos Beltran going to wind up? How about Heath Bell? It's all coming. And fast.

For now, we focus on the matters at hand. This is Friday's Dose...

* Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk following yet another horrific outing. The 24-year-old surrendered eight earned runs (including two homers) in just 3 1/3 innings Thursday against the Cardinals and will head to the minors having allowed a whopping 25 earned runs in 25 1/3 innings since returning from his early-season stint on the disabled list. His fastball velocity is down over 3 mph from 2010 and his offspeed stuff is no longer presenting a challenge to big league hitters. He'll try to right the ship against a lower level of competition as the O's are left wondering what might have gone wrong. Matusz finished last season on a high note, registering a 7-3 record and 3.69 ERA over his final 14 starts. No momentum remains from that promising stretch.

* Twins first baseman Justin Morneau underwent surgery Thursday to remove a bone fragment from his neck and is expected to miss at least another six weeks. Or longer. The first baseman has struggled mightily at the plate this season and hasn't been the same player since suffering a severe concussion before last year's All-Star break. It's quite possible that the Twins, still well out of contention despite a recent turnaround, will simply decide to focus on getting Morneau healthy and locked-in for 2012. He's under contract through the 2013 season at a total of $28 million and is earning $12 million here in 2011. It's a situation worth treating with care.

* There was some belief during the fantasy baseball draft season that Twins import Tsuyoshi Nishioka could carry some value in mixed leagues, or at least AL-only leagues, as a high-average hitter and base-stealer. It wasn't a widely held belief, but he was plucked off plenty of fantasy draft boards -- a decent risk in the last couple rounds.

So far, it hasn't worked out. And Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 AM in the Twin Cities makes a compelling case that it may never work out. Nishioka won the batting title last season in Japan, but he registered a .399 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) while doing so. That's crazy-good luck.

He's not getting on base here in the states, and he's not trying for steals when do does. Blame the early poor performance on his broken fibula if you want, but he's someone we're ready to give up on from a fantasy perspective.

National League Quick Hits: Cubs righty Carlos Zambrano was taken to the hospital to get an MRI on his back after exiting in the second inning Thursday against the Giants … Pirates starter Jeff Karstens has a lower ERA (2.65) than Cliff Lee (2.66) and faces a weak Astros offense next week … Lance Berkman slugged two home runs Thursday in a win over the Orioles … Marlins closer Leo Nunez is up to 22 saves … Pirates second baseman Neil Walker was held out of Thursday's lineup due to mild back soreness … Astros righty Brandon Lyon, who opened the year at closer, underwent season-ending surgery Thursday on his upper right arm … … Cardinals closer Fernando Salas now has 13 saves ... The Rockies acquired 34-year-old second baseman Mark Ellis in a minor trade Thursday with the A's … Stephen Strasburg (elbow) has progressed to throwing curveballs … Cole Hamels left his Thursday afternoon start after getting struck in the hand by a comebacker, but X-rays turned up negative and he is expected to make his next start … Jerry Hairston Jr. is out 2-4 weeks with a fractured right wrist ... Wandy Rodriguez threw seven shutout innings Thursday in an impressive victory over the Rangers … Manny Acosta is considered day-to-day with a hyperextended wrist … Jaime Garcia allowed 10 hits and five earned runs Thursday against the Orioles in yet another rough road outing … Jeff Keppinger is day-to-day with an illness … Troy Tulowitzki hit a three-run homer and walked twice Thursday against the White Sox … Roy Oswalt will get a second opinion on his back Friday from Dallas-based spine surgeon Dr. Andrew Dossett … The Dodgers aren't engaging in trade talks yet for coveted starter Hiroki Kuroda.

American League Quick Hits: Yankees ace CC Sabathia matched a career-high with his 13-strikeout performance Thursday against the Brewers … Kevin Youkilis is day-to-day with a sore right ankle … Jason Kubel was pulled from a rehab game Thursday at High-A Fort Myers after tweaking his foot but expects to return to action Friday … Free agent lefty Scott Kazmir worked out for the Rangers earlier this week but no deal is imminent … Derek Jeter (calf strain) is expected to return to the Yankees' starting lineup Monday in Cleveland … Travis Snider has been cleared to resume playing in games at Triple-A Las Vegas after taking a few weeks off because of a concussion … Elvis Andrus returned Thursday from a six-day absence caused by a sprained wrist, stealing two bases and knocking two singles … The Tigers placed reliever Al Alburquerque (2.79 ERA, 44 Ks in 29 innings) on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation … Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia now has 12 home runs in 61 games … Matt LaPorta is not as far along in his recovery from a sprained right ankle as the Indians were anticipating … White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham burst out of a slump Thursday, going 3-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and a walk … The Tigers have removed Phil Coke from the starting rotation … Dustin McGowan is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Saturday with Single-A Dunedin … Luke Scott is day-to-day with a right knee contusion … The Red Sox designated veteran outfielder Mike Cameron for assignment.

Drew Silva is a baseball editor for Rotoworld and also contributes on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk. He can be found on Twitter.
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