D.J. Short

Baseball Daily Dose

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Hot Corner Homecoming

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

After playing in two minor league rehab games over the weekend, Chipper Jones was back in the Braves' lineup Monday night against the Pirates. It was a pretty impressive feat considering that the 39-year-old underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee just a little over two weeks ago.

Jones collected two hits and a stolen base in his return, including a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning. However, he was then forced to leave the game due to a strained right quadriceps muscle suffered while making a play on defense two innings earlier. The veteran third baseman doesn't think the injury is serious, but his status will be reevaluated on Tuesday.

Jones is batting .262/.342/.439 with nine homers, 47 RBI and a .781 OPS in 333 plate appearances this season. That's nothing special really, but in a year where production has been hard to come by at third base (especially in the National League), he still provides value. Of course, his early exit Monday functioned as a reminder that fantasy owners should always have a backup plan at the ready.

While Larry Wayne Jones continues to build on his reputation as a switch-hitting zombie, here are some more news and notes from around a rumor-filled Monday in the baseball world.

- Chipper Jones wasn't the only third baseman in the news Monday, as Pedro Alvarez made his return from Triple-A Indianapolis in the very same game and went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and an error.

Alvarez was hitting .365 with three homers, a 1.048 OPS and an 18/12 K/BB ratio over 76 plate appearances since his demotion earlier this month. The Pirates originally intended to keep the 24-year-old third baseman in the minor leagues for a bit longer, but plans apparently changed after outfielder Alex Presley went on the disabled list with a thumb injury.

Many fantasy prognosticators expected Alvarez to take a big step forward this season, but he batted just .208/.283/.304 with two homers, 10 RBI through his first 138 plate appearances before going on the disabled list with a quad injury in May. While the 2008 first-round pick has 18 homers and 74 RBI over his first 475 major league at-bats, he has also struck out 162 times.

It's not clear how the Pirates intend to use Alvarez moving forward, but Brandon Wood and Chase d'Arnaud aren't exactly doing anything of significance to take the third base job away. Alvarez is an obvious batting average risk due to his lowly contact rate, but his power potential is worth owning in NL-only and deeper mixed formats.

- Lance Berkman has made John Mozeliak look like a genius so far this season. The Cardinals took plenty of criticism for signing Berkman with the intent of sticking him in right field on two surgically-repaired knees, but the 35-year-old is currently batting .288/.400/.599 and leads the National League with 27 homers and a .999 OPS. While he's been a godsend for fantasy owners, the risk of injury continues to loom large.

Berkman missed Monday's game with a slight strain of his right rotator cuff suffered on his final swing during Sunday's game against the Pirates. He doesn't anticipate missing more than "a day or two," but this may be your latest hint to sell high in fantasy leagues.

NL Quick Hits: Carlos Gonzalez (wrist) won't attempt to swing a bat until this weekend … Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reported Monday that the chances of Ubaldo Jimenez being traded are now 50/50 … Colby Rasmus, also subject to trade rumors, homered and drove in three runs in Monday's win over the Astros … Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Phillies have been "aggressive" in their pursuit of Padres' relievers Heath Bell and Mike AdamsCameron Maybin (hip) missed Monday's game, but is expected to avoid the disabled list … Placido Polanco (back) hopes to begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday … Angel Pagan underwent blood tests Monday after leaving Sunday's game with dehydration and dizziness … Jon Heyman of SI.com reported Monday that Carlos Pena "will almost surely" be moved before the deadline … Brad Lidge (shoulder, elbow) tossed a perfect inning in his long-delayed season debut Monday … Jason Isringhausen notched his third save in Monday's win over the Reds … Juan Uribe (abdomen) is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Tuesday … Chris Heisey suffered a bruised left shoulder after colliding with teammate Drew Stubbs while tracking down a fly ball in the outfield Sunday … The Diamondbacks are expected to promote prospect outfielder Collin Cowgill from the minors on Tuesday … Struggling rookie first baseman Brett Wallace is expected to lose playing time …Jason Giambi has drawn interest from the Phillies and Pirates … The Diamondbacks agreed to terms with No. 3 overall pick RHP Trevor Bauer, who will make his first professional start Saturday with High-A Visalia … Astros first-round pick OF George Springer met with the GM of the independent Long Island Ducks over the weekend… Lucas Duda is the leading candidate to take over right field if and/or when Carlos Beltran is traded …

AL Quick Hits: Jon Lester returned from the disabled list Monday and tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Royals … Kevin Youkilis is day-to-day after Monday's game with right hamstring tightness … Alex Rodriguez remains on track to return in the second week of August following knee surgery … Ian Kinsler went 4-for-6 with a three-run homer and four RBI as the Rangers routed the Twins 20-6 on Monday night … Derek Jeter homered and tripled in Monday's win over the Mariners and is batting .324 since coming off the disabled list … Clay Buchholz (back) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Monday … Mariners president Chuck Armstrong told Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com that it's "not likely" Brandon League will be traded … Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago reports that the Yankees have interest in White Sox left-hander Matt ThorntonLuke Scott is scheduled to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery Tuesday … Indians' rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis delivered a walk-off RBI single in Monday's comeback win over the Angels … The Orioles are expected to activate Vladimir Guerrero (hand) from the disabled list Tuesday … Erik Bedard (knee) is on track to return to the Mariners' rotation Friday night against the Rays … Rafael Soriano (elbow) could rejoin the Yankees' bullpen as soon as Wednesday while Eric Chavez (foot) is expected to return from the disabled list Tuesday … J.D. Drew (shoulder) will be placed on the disabled list Tuesday … Alex White (finger) will pitch out of the bullpen when he returns from the disabled list … The Athletics agreed to terms with first-round pick RHP Sonny Gray, who is expected to report to Double-A Midland next week … The Athletics activated Tyson Ross (oblique, shoulder) from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento …

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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