On Sunday, Andrew McCutchen thought his left side discomfort may have just been a result of a cramp.
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Instead, it appears the injury which forced McCutchen from Sunday's game in the eighth inning was most likely a serious oblique injury, a source told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday. McCutchen is expected to be sidelined three weeks to a month.
The injury is devastating to the Pirates and their playoff chances. Currently 1.5 games back in the National League Central and just a half game out of a Wild Card spot, the Bucs will be without McCutchen, who is hitting .311/.411/.536 with 17 home runs, 17 steals and 67 RBI on the year.
The silver lining is that reinforcements are on the way. Starling Marte has been on a rehab assignment since Saturday, and the 25-year-old played center field for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday in preparation for handling center upon his return. Marte is scheduled to play his final rehab game Tuesday, but McCutchen's injury might fast-track that return.
From a fantasy perspective, the player with the most to gain from McCutchen's injury may be the one who Pirates manager Clint Hurdle recently acknowledged would lose playing time -- Pedro Alvarez. The third baseman has committed 24 errors this year, and Hurdle said Sunday that Harrison, who has played 30 games at third base this season, provides the best defense at the hot corner.
With Harrison now needed in a corner outfield spot, the Pirates have little choice but to roll with the 27-year-old. Alvarez is batting .234/.321/.401 with 15 home runs this season, and he remains a cheap source of power in leagues where he's available.
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Baez Gets The Call
Prodigious power is something Javier Baez has in spades, and starting Tuesday he'll be showing it off at the major league level.
Baez got the call Monday, and he'll be activated prior to the Cubs' game against the Rockies on Tuesday. Baez will most likely be inserted into the lineup right away, filling the team's vacancy at second base. Baez came up as a shortstop and may play there again in the future, but Starlin Castro is holding down the position at present.
The book on Baez is similar to that of Alvarez -- unlimited power, but with plenty of swing-and-miss as well. The 21-year-old has 23 home runs and 130 strikeouts in 104 games with Triple-A Iowa this season, and he hit 37 homers with 147 strikeouts over a full season in 2012. Baez also has some speed -- he's stolen 44 bases over the past two seasons and has 16 steals thus far this season.
With little left to play for as an organization this season, the Cubs would be silly not to see what Baez can do with regular at-bats over the final two months. Baez will also likely be thrown into the middle do the Cubs lineup -- names like Ryan Sweeney, Luis Valbuena and Chris Valaika have batted in run-producing spots this season, so a spot directly behind Anthony Rizzo and Castro in the order is a distinct possibility.
Baez is currently owned in just 37 percent of Yahoo leagues, and with light-tower power and an unchallenged path to playing time -- Arismendy Alcantara, who has held down the keystone since the team traded Darwin Barney, will most likely move to the outfield on a full-time basis with Baez' arrival -- he's certainly worth a flyer.
Cain (Elbow) Done For Season
A nightmare season will soon come to a merciful end for Matt Cain.
Cain, who was 2-7 with a 4.18 ERA before elbow inflammation forced him to the disabled list on July 21, will have season-ending surgery next Monday to remove bone chips from the elbow, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Monday. The three-month recovery time means Cain's season is over, but the right-hander is expected to be ready for the start of the 2015 season.
“It’s been frustrating for Matt,” Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s been battling this for a while. It’s time. He could have kept trying to push it. But it was inevitable. He’s going to have this done and be ready for spring training."
Fortunately for the Giants, they were proactive in addressing the situation, acquiring Jake Peavy from the Red Sox before the trade deadline. Cain's surgery has few ripple effects from an organizational standpoint, so only fantasy owners -- who drafted Cain expecting him to be good for double-digit wins and an ERA in the mid-3.00 range -- are left holding the bag.
National League Quick Hits: Chris Perez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with bone spurs in his right ankle. The former closer and current Dodgers middle reliever owns a 5.03 ERA through 39 1/3 innings this season ... The Mets designated Bobby Abreu for assignment following Monday's game. The 40-year-old hit .238/.331/.336 in 122 at-bats with the New York club ... The Nationals placed Nate McLouth on the disabled list and recalled Steven Souza. Souza is hitting .354/.435/.601 with Triple-A Syracuse this season and makes for an intriguing add in NL-only leagues ... Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-5 with three RBI, including the game-winning RBI double in the ninth inning, to give the Giants a 4-3 win over the Mets on Monday. The third baseman pulled his average up to .280 with the good day, and he'll have a chance to push it above .280 for the first time this season on Tuesday ... Dan Uggla is stuck in a precarious position, too terrible to play for a major league club but too good, in his mind, to be sent to the minors. Uggla rejected his assignment to Triple-A by the Giants, making him a free agent for the second time this season. One thing is for sure: Dan Uggla would draft, sign and start Dan Uggla.
American League Quick Hits: Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) played catch Monday, reporting that he felt good after the session. While Tanaka is still facing the prospect of Tommy John surgery one day, he may be able to avoid it in 2014 ... While one Yankees starter progresses, another went down Sunday when David Phelps left his start against the Red Sox due to elbow inflammation. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Phelps has been dealing with elbow issues for "three or four weeks," but Girardi believes Phelps will pitch again this year following a DL stint ... Brett Lawrie (finger) will be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday. The infielder has been on the DL since June 22, when he sustained a fractured right index finger after being hit by a pitch on the hand ... Michael Bourn (hamstring) will begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday. The left hamstring strain has kept Bourn sidelined since July 6, but he should be back in the Indians lineup after a few tuneup games ... Brandon McCarthy struck out eight over 5 2/3 innings to lead the Yankees past the Tigers on Monday. McCarthy is now a perfect 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in five starts since being dealt to the Bronx ... In a move nearly as impactful as the deadline trade of David Price, the Rays released Erik Bedard on Monday. If he makes decisions as quickly as he pitches, the left-hander will likely remain a free agent for a few weeks before catching on somewhere else.