The Blue Jays are the hottest team in baseball, so it’s no surprise that the hottest hitter in baseball is on their roster.
On Tuesday, Edwin Encarnacion clubbed his 14th home run in the month of May. Yes, you read that correctly. Fourteen homers. Not for the season, but for this month.
At the time of the longball, Encarnacion had exactly twice as many homers in May as the Cardinals. Yes, the entire Cardinals’ team (the Cards wound up going deep twice Tuesday after E5 went upper tank at Rogers Centre, giving them nine for the month). The 14 dingers tie Encarnacion for the Blue Jays’ team record for a month, which he shares with Jose Bautista. He’ll have four games to see if he can own the record by himself.
It’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who went the first 19 games of the season without a home run. Encarnacion finished April with just two longballs, but he now has 16 for the season to close within one of major league home run leader Nelson Cruz. Ten of his taters have come in the last 12 contests, and he has four multi-homer games over the last 20 days.
It’s always a tad silly to play the pace game this early, but the Blue Jays’ first baseman is now on pace for 49 home runs and 128 RBI this season. The home run total would best his previous high by nine, and the RBI total would best his previous high by 18.
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Ventura’s UCL Intact, but Elbow Still Compromised
The Royals got some good news Tuesday when an MRI on Yordano Ventura’s right elbow showed no structural damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. However, while the news overall was positive, the young right-hander isn’t out of the woods just yet.
Ventura was diagnosed with valgus extension overload. What is valgus extension overload, you might rightly ask? Well, let’s let Washington Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine (WOSM) define it for you:
“Valgus extension overload (VEO) syndrome is a condition seen in throwing athletes, in which repetitive stresses of throwing lead to progressive changes within the elbow joint, which cause pain and athletic impairment.”
Wait, WOSM isn’t done, and this is the most worrisome part:
“Eventual breakdown of the cartilage can lead to unstable body formation, development of bony osteophytes (spurs) and, in many cases, loss of normal elbow extension. Forces can also compromise the most important restraint on the medial side of the elbow, the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Injury to the UCL can precipitate or exacerbate VEO due to increased loading of the aticular surfaces.”
So, while Ventura’s UCL is fine for now, his condition could deteriorate to the point where the ligament is in danger. The Royals want Ventura to ease up on his velocity early on in games, which they feel will result in less stress on the elbow. That’s probably true, but it also means he could be much less effective. Plus, taking a few miles-per-hour off his heater for a few innings wouldn’t necessarily put his VEO issues behind him.
Ventura will be shut down for three days, and the plan is for him to miss only one start. However, this should certainly be considered a red flag going forward.
Hanley Returns; Crawford Injury Opens Door for Kemp
Hanley Ramirez returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing the previous four contests with a calf injury, and the shortstop drove in a run in a victory over the Reds. Matt Kemp, on the other hand, was benched for a fifth straight game, but it appears his time is coming. It’s just not the way the Dodgers wanted to open up a spot for him.
Carl Crawford suffered a nasty looking left ankle injury Tuesday and is headed to the disabled list. X-rays came back clean, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Crawford has some ligament damage.
"It didn't look good. (Trainer) Stan (Conte) didn't sound good," manager Don Mattingly said.
We’d have to concur, Donnie.
Kemp was named the team’s everyday center fielder by Mattingly just a few weeks ago, but he’s since fallen out of favor and has been working out in left field. The position could be Kemp’s new home while Crawford is sidelined, and perhaps for even longer than that. Kemp is batting .262/.325/.450 with five homers, 13 RBI and five stolen bases after striking out in a pinch-hitting appearance Tuesday.
National League Quick Hits: Ben Revere hit his first home run in his 1,566th career plate appearance in Tuesday’s loss to the Rockies ... Lance Lynn tossed his first career shutout in Tuesday’s victory over the Yankees ... Tim Hudson fired seven shutout innings in Tuesday’s win over the Cubs, lowering his ERA to 1.92 ... Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Tuesday reiterated his desire to get Jason Grilli back in the closer role at some point ... X-rays on Evan Gattis's right wrist came back negative, and he’s listed as day-to-day ... Andrelton Simmons is day-to-day after being diagnosed with right ankle inflammation ... Carlos Gonzalez is day-to-day after leaving Tuesday's game against the Phillies with a right calf contusion ... Matt Cain (hamstring) will throw a bullpen session Wednesday before he’s cleared to start Saturday ... Mark Trumbo (foot) will hit in a batting cage on Wednesday for the first time since landed on the DL ... Andrew Cashner (elbow) threw a successful bullpen session Tuesday ... The Reds signed Carlos Marmol to a minor league contract ... An MRI taken Tuesday on the right elbow of Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard turned up negative ...
American League Quick Hits: The Indians placed Carlos Santana on the concussion disabled list Tuesday ... The Tribe also placed Nick Swisher (knee) on the DL ... Prince Fielder underwent successful neck surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that’s expected to end his season ... Nelson Cruz went 2-for-3 with his major league-leading 17th home run in Tuesday’s loss to the Brewers ... Yu Darvish was scratched from Tuesday’s start due to neck stiffness, but an MRI came back negative ... Collin McHugh allowed five hits while striking out nine over seven shutout innings versus the Royals Tuesday ... Oswaldo Arcia went 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season in Tuesday’s win over the Rangers ... James Paxton (lat) has been shut down for at last five days after an MRI revealed left shoulder inflammation ... Carlos Beltran (elbow) will hit off a tee and take soft tosses Thursday ... Mark Teixeira (wrist) missed a second straight start Tuesday ... Clay Buchholz is likely to miss his next start due to a hyperextended knee (and also poor performance) ... Royals pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer has been shut down for 6-8 weeks due to a lat strain ...