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Baseball Daily Dose

Alex Verdugo Moving On Up

by David Shovein
Updated On: August 8, 2020, 2:19 pm ET

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced prior to Friday’s game that he has been considering moving outfielder Alex Verdugo to the leadoff spot in the team’s lineup. It would be a nice boost to his counting stats -- and subsequently his fantasy value -- as Verdugo has spent most of his time this season batting seventh.

Perhaps Roenicke’s words inspired the 24-year-old outfielder. He crushed a Tanner Roark offering for a solo homer in the second inning on Friday, giving the Red Sox an early 2-1 lead over the Blue Jays. He then helped to seal the deal later in the contest with a second solo shot -- this one off of Jays’ right-hander Rafael Dolis in the eighth.

Verdugo also drew a walk in the contest, finishing the night 2-for-3. That raises his season slash to a healthy .294/.368/.559 to go along with three long balls and four RBI. Taken at face value, those numbers are probably enough to earn Verdugo a move up the batting order. That isn’t the only reason this change is likely to happen though.

Andrew Benintendi -- who has been functioning in that role -- is completely out of sorts and looks lost at the plate. He had another miserable night on Friday, going 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts, lowering his season-slash to an unthinkable .061/.279/.091. That comes with a 15/10 K/BB ratio over 44 plate appearances.

In total, he’s 2-for-33 with a double, one RBI and three runs scored. Woof.

Verdugo also put on a show with his glove during this one, leaping over the right field wall to take a potential home run away from Travis Shaw in the ninth inning. He let out a scream of excitement afterwards, which he talked about after the game, “I don’t know if I’ve ever really screamed like that after a catch, even with fans... But yeah, taking a home run back, that’s one of the most exciting plays in baseball. And after just hitting [a homer in the bottom of the eighth], I was on cloud nine. I was letting it out.”

He's not going to make Red Sox' fans forget about Mookie Betts, but they have to be happy with what they have seen so far out of #99 in right field.

 

Donaldson Dinged

After several days of the Twins downplaying the severity of Josh Donaldson’s calf injury, the veteran third baseman was officially placed on the injured list on Friday, retroactive to August 4.

Donaldson hasn’t played since July 31, but under the rules for the 2020 season, a back-dated stint on the injured list can’t be any longer than four days -- hence the August 4 date.

The 34-year-old slugger was off to a slow start at the plate prior to the injury, hitting just .182/.296/.318 with a homer, two RBI and a 7/4 K/BB ratio across 27 plate appearances.

Part of the reason that this decision was finally made may be tied to the rosters being cut down to 28 players on Thursday -- the club wanted to have the extra flexibility instead of continuing to waste a bench spot on Donaldson if he was unable to go.

The Twins sound optimistic that he’ll be able to return after a minimum stint on the injured list -- but questions remain. Donaldson has battled similar calf injuries throughout his career, so this doesn’t appear to be a fluke type of injury. They may want to sit him down for awhile to make sure that it’s taken care of properly -- rather than rushing him back and risking further aggravation.

There are also questions surrounding how effective he’ll be upon his return. Look no further than Donaldson’s injury-marred 2018 season where he hit .246/.352/.449 with eight homers in 52 games while playing through similar injuries.

With the Twins seemingly considered a lock to finish in one of the top two spots in the American League Central, it may be more beneficial to them to have Donaldson fully healthy and ready for the postseason, than it would be to have him contributing on the field to help them get there.

 

Cardinals Cancelled

Just as the Cardinals were set to resume their season on Friday -- and have all 30 MLB teams in play on the same day for just the third time all season -- COVID-19 struck again.

The Cardinals announced on Friday that they had three new positive tests -- two players and one staff member. That prompted Major League Baseball to postpone their entire weekend series against the Cubs,

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced that the two players that received the positive tests are closer-hopeful Ryan Helsley and outfielder Austin Dean.

What new information comes out over the next 24-to-48 hours will determine the next course of action for the Cardinals and how long they may still be shut down for. It’s hard to be optimistic that they’ll be able to take on the Pirates as scheduled on Monday.

As Mark Saxon of The Athletic pointed out on Twitter, “One key aspect to this is that the player who tested positive, I am told, and I am reiterating here, was with the team in Milwaukee. That means he flew with teammates and worked out with them Wednesday and Thursday”. 

There’s a very real possibility that this situation gets worse before it gets better.

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American League Quick Hits: The Royals have been impressed with what they have seen from Matt Harvey at the team’s alternate training site… Jose Alvarado will be away from the Rays for a day or two while on paternity leave… Chase Anderson (oblique) could make his Blue Jays’ debut on Saturday against the Red Sox… Edwin Encarnacion (shoulder) missed another game on Friday -- he hasn’t played since leaving Tuesday’s contest -- though the club is hopeful he’ll return over the weekend and avoid the injured list… Rio Ruiz returned to the Orioles’ lineup after missing a week with shoulder inflammation… Tyler Alexander will start for the Tigers on Tuesday -- taking the place of Daniel Norris who will work in tandem with Michael Fulmer on Monday… Indians’ hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo opted out of the 2020 season, but will continue to contribute remotely… Patrick Sandoval will start for the Angels on Saturday against the Rangers… Nick Heath was pulled from Friday’s game with left hamstring tightness… Aaron Bummer was forced to exit Friday’s appearance against the Indians due to left biceps soreness.

Tommy Milone fired six shutout innings in a victory over the Nationals… Renato Nunez smashed his fifth homer of the season in that one, while Jose Iglesias went 4-for-4 and plated three… Masahiro Tanaka twirled five shutout innings in a no-decision against the Rays… Blake Snell fanned five over three shutout frames on the other side… Joe Jimenez suffered his first blown save of the season, giving up three runs in the ninth against the Pirates… Niko Goodrum doubled twice and drove in five as the Tigers rallied to beat the Pirates in 11 innings… Dylan Cease struck out four over five shutout innings in a victory over the Indians… Aaron Civale limited the White Sox to just one run over seven innings in a tough-luck loss on the other side… Mike Trout socked his fifth dinger of the season, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Angels to victory over the Rangers… Rafael Montero -- fresh off of the injured list -- worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to protect a one-run lead and earn a save. He fanned David Fletcher and Trout to end the ballgame -- and in doing so may have just locked down the closer’s role in Texas… Austin Nola homered and drove in three runs in a loss to the Rockies… Zack Greinke struck out five over six shutout innings in a tough-luck no-decision… Chris Bassitt allowed just one run on three hits over seven strong innings on the other side… Marcus Semien delivered the walk-off RBI single in the 13th inning as the Athletics triumphed over the Astros… Cavan Biggio launched his third long ball in a loss to the Red Sox.
 

National League Quick Hits: Stephen Strasburg (hand) will make his long-awaited 2020 season debut on Sunday versus the Orioles… Max Scherzer (hamstring) was able to play catch on Friday without issue. He anticipates being ready to make his next scheduled start against the Mets on Tuesday… The Mets’ bullpen got a boost as Robert Gsellman (triceps) was activated from the 10-day injured list… Reyes Moronta (shoulder) reported to the team’s alternate training site on Friday. He’s still at least a few weeks away from a possible return… Braves’ right-hander Chris Martin hit the injured list with an esophageal constriction… The Braves claimed Robbie Erlin off of waivers from the Padres… Mike Moustakas missed another game Friday with a bruised left quad. Manager David Bell said he expects Moustakas will be ready to return to the lineup on Tuesday, after the team’s off day… Mookie Betts returned to the Dodgers’ lineup on Friday after missing three games due to swelling in his left middle finger… Friday’s game between the Braves and Phillies was washed out due to rain -- they’ll make it up as part of a doubleheader on Sunday… Ryan Castellani will make his big league debut on Saturday against the Mariners -- starting in place of the injured Chi Chi Gonzalez… The Reds acquired Mark Payton from the Athletics for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Payton deserves a shot after hitting .334/.400/.653 with 30 homers, 97 RBI and seven swipes at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2019, but the Reds have one of the more crowded outfield situations in all of baseball… Corey Seager was removed from Friday’s game due to discomfort in his lower back. He’s considered day-to-day… Nick Senzel was lifted from Friday’s contest with left groin tightness -- the severity of which wasn’t known by Reds’ skipper David Bell after the game. He’ll be re-evaluated on Saturday.

Erik Gonzalez went 4-for-5 and drove in six runs as the Pirates fell to the Tigers in 11 innings… Chad Kuhl punched out seven over four innings of one-run ball in a no-decision… Marlins’ rookie Humberto Mejia struck out six over 2 ⅓ innings in his MLB debut against the Mets… Francisco Cervelli clubbed a three-run homer to lead the Marlins to a victory in that one… Christian Yelich homered for the second consecutive day -- this one over the fence -- as the Brewers fell to the Reds… Nick Castellanos blasted his seventh home run of the season and drove in three to lead the Reds’ attack in that one… Trevor Bauer racked up 12 strikeouts over six innings of one-run ball there to improve to 2-0… Fernando Tatis Jr. cranked his fifth home run of the year as the Padres dispatched of the Diamondbacks… Zach Davies fanned six over 5 ⅔ scoreless innings to earn a victory for the Padres against the D’Backs… Antonio Senzatela struck out five over six innings of two-run ball, defeating the Mariners to improve to 3-0… Max Muncy belted his fourth homer and Mookie Betts clubbed his third as the Dodgers bested the Giants… Wilmer Flores smacked his third round-tripper in a losing effort.

David Shovein
Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.