MLB’s All-Star break is the slowest five-day stretch on the American sports calendar, and it gets even slower on Wednesday and Thursday after all of the festivities related to the Midsummer Classic have ended. No major league teams are playing and most baseball beat writers are given short vacations when their All-Star duties are completed. So there’s not much news to recap or examine or analyze for fantasy purposes. We’ll try to work with what little we have …
Gattis Given Go-Ahead For Rehab
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez announced Wednesday that catcher Evan Gattis has officially been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Thursday with Triple-A Gwinnett, first as the affiliate’s designated hitter before eventually moving behind the plate. Gattis is expected to play 3-4 games with Gwinnett before rejoining Atlanta’s active roster early next week. Monday’s series-opener with the Marlins is a possibility for his return.
The 27-year-old slugger has hit .290/.342/.558 with 16 home runs and 39 RBI in 63 games this season for the Braves, who will be percentage points behind the first-place Nationals when the second half begins on Friday night. Gattis flashed high-level power potential in 2013 with his .480 slugging percentage and 21 homers in 105 games, but it’s the steady batting average and OBP marks that have now launched him into the category of an offensive star.
Christian Bethancourt gives the Braves better defense at catcher, but Gattis has been too good with the bat this season and will take back the everyday job upon his return. Bethancourt will presumably be optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett, with Gerald Laird sticking around as the reserve backstop at the major league level.
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Brewers Uncertain About Segura’s Return
Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura flew home to his native Dominican Republic late last week following the sudden death of his nine-month-old son Janniel. A stay on the bereavement list can only last seven days and so the Brewers have been trying to contact the grieving Segura to find out whether he needs to be placed on the restricted list. But there’s been no response yet.
“I’ve made phone calls today to try to make contact with him,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Wednesday afternoon. “I haven’t been able to make contact at this time. I’m hoping to find out today. We’ve left messages but we haven’t heard back. We just don’t know right now. … There are a lot of unknowns here. Whatever Jean decides, we will support him. And we know his teammates will be there for him, too.”
Jeff Bianchi will serve as the Brewers’ primary shortstop until Segura feels ready to shift at least some of his focus back to baseball. It would be completely understandable if that takes another week or more.
National League Quick Hits: Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles heard from a source that the Dodgers will likely pursue Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon at this year’s July 31 trade deadline … Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters recently that he expects Joey Votto (quad) to be sidelined for "weeks,” not "months and months and months” … Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with the High-A Clearwater Threshers … Cubs speedster Emilio Bonifacio (oblique) has shifted his minor league rehab assignment from the Arizona League to Double-A Tennessee and is on track to be activated early next week … The Brewers agreed to terms on a minor league contract with catcher Hector Gimenez.
American League Quick Hits: The Angels have expressed interest in Padres starter Ian Kennedy, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday that the two teams “do not match up” for a trade because of Anaheim’s lack of prospects … Andy Dirks has been pulled off his rehab assignment at High-A Lakeland due to discomfort in his surgically-repaired back … The Royals acquired right-handed reliever Jason Frasor from the Rangers in exchange for minor league pitcher Spencer Patton … Kevin Gausman will not be on an innings limit in the second half of 2014 … Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said earlier this week that reliever Joel Hanrahan (elbow) has "made progress” but still isn’t close to being activated … The Red Sox officially released A.J. Pierzynski, who had been designated for assignment last week … The Angels expect to strike a deal with first-round pick Sean Newcomb prior to Friday’s draft signing deadline … Geovany Soto (knee) is on track to make his 2014 major league debut this weekend.