If for some reason Yu didn’t watch any baseball Tuesday night, Yu missed quite a performance.
The Rangers’ Yu Darvish came within one out of a perfect game against the Astros before No. 9 hitter Marwin Gonzalez ruined things with a solid single up the middle on a first-pitch fastball. His pitch count having reached 111, which is pretty high for early April, Darvish was removed after the perfecto was over. Michael Kirkman came on and gave up a hit but then recorded a strikeout to complete the 7-0 shutout win.
Yes, it was against a feeble Astros lineup that was batting Rick Ankiel in the No. 5 spot, but Darvish was fantastic and would have befuddled just about anyone Tuesday night. The Japanese import notched a career-high 14 strikeouts, which would have tied for the most during a perfect game, had he completed it.
It was also the first time in 30 regular season starts that Darvish didn’t walk a batter. The 26-year-old walked 89 batters over his 191 1/3 innings last season, but he was showing much better control late in the year, walking no more than two in his last seven regular season starts before issuing zero free passes in a postseason start.
Darvish had a little trouble adjusting to a new every-five-days schedule last season, showing some wear around midseason. But he looked great down the stretch and was electric during spring training and in his first regular season outing. A monster year could be in the offing.
Dodgers to Ease Crawford In
Carl Crawford batted .357/.419/.464 with a homer and two steals after returning to action late in spring training. He then picked up two base hits and scored a run on Opening Day Monday. On Tuesday, he was on the bench.
No, Crawford hasn’t had a setback with his surgically-repaired left elbow. The Dodgers simply want to ease the outfielder back into things after he was limited to 31 games in 2012 and appeared in just 10 Cactus League contests.
“We wanted to make sure we were able to wean him in the first couple series,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s going to want to get out there every day. Carl’s a worker. He loves to hit and hit and go and go. He’s a full-speed guy. He gets after it pretty good. It’s part of getting his feet wet.”
Ultimately, the plan to work Crawford back into things slowly shouldn’t be too big of a deal for fantasy owners, especially if it proves to be beneficial in the long run. He should be in the lineup on a daily basis by the end of April and remains a nice bounce-back candidate.
Luddy Out Three Months
We have an update on Ryan Ludwick, and it’s not a good one.
The Reds’ outfielder will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that Ludwick will be sidelined for the next three months. Given the serious nature of the injury, it’s certainly possible that Ludwick won’t be himself even once he’s healthy enough to return.
So what will the Reds do in his absence?
For now, they’re expected to call up either Derrick Robinson or Denis Phipps from Triple-A Louisville or possibly Donald Lutz from Double-A Pensacola to take Ludwick’s spot on the roster. They would all primarily be backups, though, as Chris Heisey will see the bulk of the action in left field. He’s a worthy pick-up for fantasy owners in deeper leagues.
Of course, the natural question from fantasy owners is, “does this mean we’ll see Billy Hamilton in the majors sooner rather than later?” The answer is, “yes, perhaps.” Hamilton dealt with a hamstring issue late in spring training, and he’s also still getting comfortable in center field following the move from shortstop. So, it’s not going to be a matter of weeks before he’s called up.
However, if Ludwick is indeed sidelined for at least three months, it’s hard to believe Hamilton won’t join the big club sometime during that stretch. His promotion would allow the Reds to move Shin-Soo Choo to a corner outfield spot where he belongs, vastly improving the club’s defense and probably their offense, as well. If you have roster space and Hamilton is on your waiver wire, feel free to scoop him up and cross your fingers.
National League Quick Hits: Both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki hit their second home run in as many days in Tuesday’s win over the Brewers. CarGo has four hits in his first 10 at-bats ... The D’Backs hope Didi Gregorius (elbow) will be ready to play shortstop in minor league games by April 15 ... Ted Lilly (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment Friday. The veteran lefty is healthy, but it might take a trade of Chris Capuano or Aaron Harang before the Dodgers add him to the roster ... The Padres expect Andrew Cashner to be part of their rotation eventually this season. He’ll be used in relief for now as the team holds down his innings total ... Jonny Venters (elbow) has received a platelet-rich plasma injection and will be shut down for the next four weeks ... Johan Santana underwent successful surgery Tuesday to repair a tear in the capsule in the front of his left shoulder. He’ll miss the 2013 season ... Pete Kozma singled and had one of three Cardinals’ homers in Tuesday’s win over Arizona. Kozma is coming off a strong spring, where he hit .359/.406/.578 with three homers ... Madison Bumgarner blanked the Dodgers over eight innings Tuesday, holding them to just two hits while striking out six ... Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed three runs – one earned – over 6 1/3 frames in his debut. He struck out five and didn’t walk anyone but surrendered 10 hits ...
American League Quick Hits: Lucas Harrell was overshadowed by Yu Darvish Tuesday but was very good in his own right, holding the Rangers to one run over six frames ... The Blue Jays are expecting Brett Lawrie (ribs) to miss the next two weeks. He could begin a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend ... Bartolo Colon will return from the suspended list to start Saturday against the Astros. Dan Straily is expected to lose his rotation spot ... Adam Jones went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored in Tuesday’s win over the Rays. He could have gone 5-for-5 if not for a pair of great defensive plays ... Scott Kazmir suffered an abdominal strain during a workout Monday and could miss Saturday’s scheduled start. He’ll throw a bullpen session Wednesday before a decision is made ... Robinson Cano has switched agents from Scott Boras to CAA and Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports. He is reportedly eager to sign an extension with the Yankees ... Hisashi Iwakuma tossed six innings of one-run ball in Tuesday’s victory over the A’s. He permitted just two hits, whiffed seven and didn’t walk anyone ... Michael Morse launched a three-run homer and a solo shot in Tuesday’s game. He’s coming off a Cactus League season where he hit nine over the boards ...