Every week, “Nine Innings” covers nine topics ranging from Fantasy, injuries, big performances, streaks, slumps, rumors and whatever else that pops into my head.
1. Remembering Harmon Killebrew
Killebrew passed away last week and if you ask me, there wasn’t enough time given by the media to provide some context about who the man was. This guy was baseball royalty during a time when baseball was still the unparalleled favorite sport in this country. Millions of baby boomers grew up watching this guy. For those who weren’t alive during the 1960s or early 70s, Killebrew may only be known as a big-time home run hitter. Before the steroid era players made their jump into the top ten, the top five leaders in home runs were Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660), Frank Robinson (586) and Killebrew (573). Here are some links that share some insight about Killebrew and are definitely worth the read: NYTimes blog, Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
Bert Blyleven remembers Harmon Killebrew
Home Run Derby: Mickey Mantle vs. Harmon Killebrew
2. Josh Johnson headed to the DL
Florida Marlins ace and the National League’s ERA leader Josh Johnson is headed to the disabled list due to inflammation in his right shoulder. Johnson has said that he’s been pitching through the pain all season. The pain would start early during his pre-game warm-up, but dissipate after he got loose. For Fantasy owners, this should only be considered a minor setback. But if he struggles upon his return, his trade value can only sharply decline.
3. Chase Utley close to a return
As if the team with the NL’s best record could get any better, Chase Utley is set to return very soon from the DL. On Friday night, he was the DH with High-A Clearwater and on Saturday, he played on the field as well. News should be coming soon about a timetable for his return.
4. Felix Hernandez and James Shields both strikeout 13
In a pair of dominating performances, James Shields and Felix Hernandez each had 13 strikeouts on Sunday night, leading their teams to dominating wins. Shields pitched a complete game three-hit shutout against a very tough Florida Marlins team. Shields lowered his ERA to 2.00 and improved his record to 5-2. As for King Felix, over eight innings, he only allowed six hits and one earned run against the San Diego Padres.
5. LAPD arrests suspect in Bryan Stow beating
Hopefully the Los Angeles PD has the right guy and justice is served. Stow remains in critical condition.
6. Web Gems!
7. Rookie call-ups
The Philadelphia Phillies have already called up OF Domonic Brown. Seattle’s Dustin Ackley should be called up any day now. Kansas City called up Eric Hosmer a few weeks ago and will call-up LHP Danny Duffy very soon. The Braves had to play Julio Teheran due to Brandon Beachy’s injury. Things should get very interesting after June 1. I’m really looking forward to the guys aforementioned, but also Brett Lawrie and Desmond Jennings.
8. Jason Heyward hits the DL
Braves RF Jason Heyward has been sent to the DL due to discomfort in his right shoulder. He’s been struggling with it since Spring Training. Heyward noted that the pain began to worsen in the last week. He only went 4-for-41 in May so some rest should serve him well.
9. News and notes
Sometimes there are just too many news stories to cover so let me hit you with some links and one-liners. The Chicago Cubs played at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918. Cleveland swept Cincinnati for the first time in seven years. Mariners swept the Padres and the Giants swept the A’s. Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd got beaned in the face by Boston pitcher Alfredo Aceves. He was taken to a hospital immediately and has been placed on the 15-day DL with multiple face fractures. Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon criticized some of his top players in the New Yorker. He made comments against Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran.