I hope everyone had a most excellent Labor Day. Or, for the purposes of this particular column, we'll call it "Strasmas Eve."
Monday was filled with plenty of exciting individual performances, but we'll start with the power exploits of young Jesus Montero. The heralded rookie homered twice (complete with curtain calls) and drove in three runs in a wild 11-10 win victory over the Orioles. Perhaps most impressive, both were opposite-field shots. By the way, do you happen to know the last 21-year-old to homer twice in one of his first five games in the big leagues? Our pal Aaron Gleeman tells us that it was Manny Ramirez in 1993. You know, just in case the hype wasn't already out of control.
Montero has started each of the last three games as the designated hitter, but don't get too carried away yet, as he was simply getting the nod against a string of left-handed starters. Jorge Posada will likely DH on Tuesday against the right-hander Tommy Hunter.
I could envision a scenario where Montero would bump Posada off the postseason roster, especially if the Yankees go up against the lefty-heavy Rangers' staff, but this should remain a pretty strict platoon down the stretch. With playing time likely to be an issue, it's tough to rely on Montero outside of AL-only and deeper mixed formats. He's obviously keeper gold, though.
While we wait to see what Montero has in store for an encore, here are some more news and notes from around a busy Labor Day in the baseball world.
* Zach Stewart was nearly perfect against the light-hitting Twins on Monday night. The rookie right-hander retired the first 21 batters he faced until a leadoff double by Danny Valencia in the bottom of the eighth. It was the only hit he allowed on the night.
Stewart, who was acquired from the Blue Jays in July as part of the three-way Colby Rasmus deal, struck out a career-high nine in the 4-0 victory, as the White Sox took both games of the doubleheader. The 24-year-old right-hander now has a 4.56 ERA and 38/14 K/BB ratio over his first 53 1/3 innings in the big leagues.
Stewart has four pitches in his arsenal and has shown an ability to induce ground balls, so he has a chance to make it as a starting pitcher in the long run. However, it may be too early to trust him beyond AL-only leagues, even with a start against the depleted Indians this weekend.
* Is it possible that we finally have some good news to report on the Ike Davis ankle situation? It sure sounds like it. The 24-year-old first baseman worked out with his teammates before Monday's game against the Marlins and told reporters that he is confident he will be able to avoid surgery on his left ankle.
Davis, who hasn't played since a collision with David Wright on May 10, has been pain-free for the past two weeks and resumed baseball activities over the weekend. He'll stlll need to get through a checkup with doctors in New York later this week, but barring a setback, he expects to have a normal offseason before getting ready for spring training.
We have a long way to go here, but if everything goes off without a hitch, Davis has a chance to be a real sleeper in mixed leagues next season. Remember, he was batting .302/.383/.543 with seven home runs, 25 RBI and a .925 OPS over his first 149 plate appearances prior to the injury.
* Josh Beckett was cruising through a start Monday against the Blue Jays, striking out six over 3 2/3 scoreless innings, but was then forced to leave the game with a sprained right ankle. He is scheduled to return to Boston on Tuesday to have the ankle evaluated by foot specialist Dr. George Theodore, who has previously performed surgeries on Dustin Pedroia and Curt Schilling.
It's all guesswork until we learn the diagnosis, but with the Red Sox two and a half games behind the Yankees in the American League East and seven games up on the Rays in the Wild Card, they have little reason to rush him back to the mound. Keep that in mind if you're counting on him in fantasy leagues over the next two weeks.
NL Quick Hits: Cliff Lee tossed his sixth shutout of the season in Monday's win over the Braves … Troy Tulowitzki slugged a three-run homer in Monday's loss to the Diamondbacks, giving him 100 RBI for the first time in his career … Hanley Ramirez will have a CT scan before undergoing season-ending surgery on his left shoulder … Pablo Sandoval hit a pair of solo homers Monday in a win over the Padres … Mike Morse clubbed a pair of home runs in a win over the Dodgers on Monday … Javier Vazquez struck out seven over seven innings of one-run ball Monday night against the Mets and continues to be a must-start in fantasy leagues … Madison Bumgarner allowed two runs over 8 1/3 innings and struck out a career-high 13 in a win over the Padres on Monday … Mike Stanton (hamstring) was out of the lineup for the second straight game Monday … Brian Wilson (elbow) threw 15 pitches in a bullpen session Monday … Matt Garza allowed three runs (one earned) over 7 2/3 innings and struck out eight in a win over the Reds on Monday … Carlos Beltran missed Monday's game due to food poisoning … Josh Johnson (shoulder) threw off a mound Monday for the first time since July … Randy Wolf tossed eight innings of one-run ball in a win over the Cardinals on Monday … Cameron Maybin (wrist) went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and a stolen base in his return to the lineup Monday … Chipper Jones sat out Monday's game due to illness … The Cardinals hope to retain Rafael Furcal before he reaches free agency … Jair Jurrjens (knee) is two weeks away from throwing off a mound ... Dexter Fowler homered twice Monday in a loss to the Diamondbacks … Tommy Hanson (shoulder) felt good after throwing from a distance of 120 feet Monday … Yadier Molina (calf) went 1-for-3 in his return to the lineup Monday … James McDonald tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball and struck out six in Monday's win over the Astros … Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said Monday that Jon Niese (intercostal strain) isn't close to returning from the disabled list … Peter Moylan (back) tossed a perfect inning Monday in his first appearance since being activated from the disabled list … The Marlins purchased the contract of third baseman Matt Dominguez from Triple-A New Orleans … Jerry Hairston is considered day-to-day after leaving Monday's game with neck soreness … Cubs activated Andrew Cashner (shoulder) from the 60-day disabled list … The Rockies are expected to call up prospect catcher Wilin Rosario on Tuesday while left-hander Drew Pomeranz should join him later this week … The Phillies activated Joe Blanton (elbow) from the 60-day disabled list … Chris Snyder (back) will not return this season …
AL Quick Hits: Robinson Cano slugged his seventh career grand slam in a win over the Orioles on Monday … James Shields allowed one run and struck out six against the Rangers on Monday in his 11th complete game of the season … Billy Butler went 3-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and four runs scored in Monday's win over the Athletics … Brett Lawrie hit a walkoff homer as the Blue Jays beat the Red Sox 1-0 in 11 innings on Monday … Doug Fister struck out a career-high 13 while allowing two runs -- one earned -- over eight innings Monday in a win over the Indians … Mark Trumbo homered and drove in three runs in Monday's win over the Mariners … Justin Morneau will be limited to DH duties if he returns from concussion symptoms in September … Grady Sizemore (knee, hernia) went 0-for-4 with an RBI groundout Monday in his return from the disabled list … Coco Crisp (foot) was out of the lineup for the second straight game Monday … Johnny Damon was held out of Monday's lineup after being in the right leg by a pitch Sunday … Yunel Escobar (wrist) was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game Monday … Travis Hafner (foot) took batting practice for the third straight day Monday and may begin jogging this week … Eric Thames (head) went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his return to the starting lineup Monday … In his return from the disabled list, Phil Humber (facial contusion) tossed seven shutout innings Monday in a win over the Twins … Freddy Garcia was knocked around seven runs over 2 2/3 innings Monday in a no-decision against the Orioles … Jose Lobaton is expected to see regular starts behind the plate with the Rays down the stretch … Brian Matusz struggled once again Monday, giving up five runs over 1 1/3 innings against the Yankees ... Maicer Izturis (thigh) went 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch and a run scored in his return to the starting lineup Monday … The Blue Jays activated Dustin McGowan from the 60-day disabled list … Hideki Okajima is considering retirement or returning to Japan next season … Jack Hannahan (calf) could miss 5-7 days … The Orioles are expected to activate Chris Davis (shoulder) from the disabled list Tuesday … The Red Sox recalled Ryan Lavarnway from Triple-A Pawtucket … The Twins plan to recall outfielder Joe Benson and first baseman Chris Parmelee from Double-A New Britain prior to Tuesday's game … Bobby Jenks (back) is likely done for the season … According to Jack Curry of YES Network, the Yankees could call up prospect right-hander Dellin Betances from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre …