For a team with little left to play for, the Red Sox sure are going to be an interesting team to watch in September.
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Less than a month after trading for dynamic Yoenis Cespedes, the Sox made another potential impact addition when they signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract on Saturday. Castillo chose the Red Sox over a number of other suitors -- 28 teams were represented at Castillo's workout in July, and a handful of teams were believed to be serious contenders for the 27-year-old in the days leading up to his decision.
What Castillo brings is up for debate. Aside from the obvious difference between Cuba's Serie Nacional and MLB, Castillo hasn't played professional baseball in a year and a half after being caught trying to defect from his home country. All that adds up to a major question about just what type of player the Red Sox paid for.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is confident it's something pretty unique.
"This is an exciting player," said Cherington. "He's got a great combination of skills, defensive ability, speed, solid power. He's got a really strong track record in Cuba. We're excited to add him to the organization, and we feel he can be a part of winning Red Sox teams here for a long time."
Castillo's addition leaves things in the Red Sox outfield muddled to say the least. With Castillo expected to make his debut sometime next month -- 2014 was the first year of his seven-year deal, so he'll be paid to play this season -- the Sox will have he, Cespedes, Allen Craig, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Nava to fill three spots. Shane Victorino, though out for the season, is signed through 2015.
However playing time shakes out, there's no doubt Castillo will get a good long look in September. What he does with that look is anyone's guess -- Matthew Pouliot took a shot at Castillo as a fantasy player in his Strike Zone column -- but when he becomes available in fantasy leagues, he's worth a speculative add as a potential playoff lottery ticket.
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Michael Cuddyer was resolute in his insistence that he wouldn't require a trip to the disabled list for his hamstring issues.
"I'm not going on the disabled list," Cuddyer said Friday. "You can put that in bold letters."
The Rockies were less sure, placing Cuddyer on the disabled list Sunday with a left hamstring strain. The DL stint is his third this season, a season in which he's played just 34 games. And after a pinch-hit appearance in Saturday's game, the 35-year-old won't be eligible to come off the DL until September 8.
Before that appearance, Cuddyer hadn't played since last Sunday, when he hit for the cycle on his first day back from the disabled list. Although the possibility existed to try to get by without him, ultimately the Rockies decided he wasn't healing quickly enough for that to be a viable option.
"With everybody who's sore, they can all do more than me," Cuddyer said. "Unfortunately, I'm the one sacrificed for the roster spot."
The move came on the same day that the Rockies put Carlos Gonzalez on the 60-day DL, so the team that was once flush with outfielders is suddenly deficient. In their stead, the Rockies will likely continue with Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson in the corners, with Drew Stubbs in line to get some run in center field. The 29-year-old is hitting .299/.339/.500 with 13 homers and 16 steals on the year, and with everyday at-bats he's a player worth grabbing in mixed leagues to fill a Cuddyer or CarGo-sized hole.
From one oft-injured player to another, the Dodgers welcomed Hanley Ramirez back from the disabled list Sunday.
The shortstop missed the minimum amount of time with a right oblique strain, good news considering the injury has the potential to sideline players for a much longer period of time. Ramirez was activated before Sunday's game and batted fifth against the Mets, finishing 0-for-4.
He's had his share of bumps and bruises this season -- this season will mark the third time in four years that Hanley has played fewer than 135 games in a season -- but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Ramirez won't necessarily be treated like an injury-prone player down the stretch.
"We're not really gonna try to be that cautious," said Mattingly. "You just play him. Obviously, you're not gonna run him into the ground. If he's not feeling good or something's going on, then we give him a break. With the days off coming, we'll just kind of play it by ear."
That's good news for fantasy owners, as Ramirez can be a difference maker when he's locked in. Owners should have Hanley back in their lineups for the stretch run.
National League Quick Hits: Lucas Duda homered twice and drove in five runs in the Mets' win Sunday. The first baseman is hitting .348 with five home runs, 11 RBI and seven runs scored over his past six games ... Starlin Castro will be activated from the bereavement list on Tuesday. Castro has been in the Dominican Republic to mourn the loss of his cousin and three friends in a fatal car accident last week ... Bartolo Colon, making his first start since the loss of his mother, limited the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. Colon will return to the Dominican Republic for her funeral in the coming days ... Nolan Arenado stayed hot, hitting a two-run homer against the Marlins. Arenado is batting .388 with five home runs, 12 RBI and 16 runs scored in August ... Mike Fiers stymied the Pirates for his fourth straight victory, limiting the Bucs to two runs over seven innings. Fiers is 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four starts with the Brewers ... A couple good young pitchers returned from the disabled list over the weekend, with Jacob deGrom and Andrew Cashner being activated Saturday. The pair combined to go 0-2 in their return, but brighter days are ahead for the two right-handers.
American League Quick Hits: The A's placed closer Sean Doolittle on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right intercostal muscle. The upside is that he's expected to just need the 15 days before returning. Luke Gregerson will most likely close for the A's in Doolittle's absence ... after leaving Friday's game following a HBP in the helmet, Xander Bogaerts was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list Sunday. Bogaerts took a Felix Hernandez pitch to the head in that contest and hadn't played since ... Victor Martinez finished 3-for-6 with a home run and four RBI in the Tigers' lopsided win Sunday. The catcher has 25 home runs to go with a .328 average and .949 OPS that are both the second-best marks in the AL ... The A's were busy Sunday, trading for Geovany Soto and Bryan Anderson. They're clearly concerned about catching depth, and Soto could see playing time as the best defensive catcher on the team ... David Ortiz left Sunday's game with a right foot contusion. He was hit by a pitch in the left elbow in Saturday's game as well. The scratches could add up to a day or two off in the coming week for Papi.