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|Job security (JS) score
||1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
|Health (H) score
||1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)
Closer: Brandon League
Understudy: David Aardsma (DL)
Lurkers: Chris Ray, David Pauley, Jamey Wright, Daniel Cortes
League may have dodged a bullet
The team is calling League day-to-day since the righty took a comeback liner to the ankle off the bat of Washington Nationals' Mike Morse on Tuesday. League had recorded two outs (and nearly gunned down Morse for the third) in the ninth, but after a few practice pitches, the rip forced his exit.
Morse was the fourth base runner - one reached on an error - to get on base against League. Pauley replaced the closer and promptly blew the whole shebang, yielding a single and a three-run walk-off blast. All three runs charged to League were unearned.
Of concern is League's health. The 28-year-old has been lights-out since a rough stretch in late May. He informed The Seattle Times' Larry Stone that his limp was pretty noticeable. The staff told him to expect the ankle to feel worse on Wednesday, but League wants to throw. We'll see how that goes. MLB.com reported that he didn't need an X-ray - good news - because it's, preliminarily, a muscle injury.
The M's should know a little more today, but it sounds like League averted disaster. He may miss a few days, assuming the initial injury made it easy to overlook something.
Stone speculated that Ray is an alternative if League is unavailable, with Pauley and Wright also receiving consideration. Ray has a 5.59 ERA because of a horrific start, but in his last nine appearances (12 innings, eight hits, one earned run, two walks, 11 K's), he has been superb. To Eric Wedge, he's likely more attractive than the other two, who've struggled of late. Still, it's a desperate move for Ray when League should be fine by next week.
Job security score: 3
Health score: 5
- Jonathan Broxton's first rehab appearance, at Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday, lasted one inning. The right-hander, recovering from a bone bruise in his elbow, allowed a two-out run to score on a walk and a double. He struck out two. He's scheduled to pitch again on Thursday before the Los Angeles Dodgers re-evaluate him. Skipper Don Mattingly: "We'll go from there."
Donnie Baseball told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Tony Jackson on Wednesday that he expects Broxton to resume closing at some point. He believes that the righty's early-season issues were a result of the injury he's recovering from. The manager said reports he received had Broxton's velocity back in the range of 94 to 97 mph. That's excellent news for those who have him reserved and provides hope that he'll rediscover his pre-2010 form yet.
- FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports that multiple contending teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals, have contacted the San Diego Padres about their relievers. Heath Bell, who has yet to engage in serious discussions about a contract extension, and Chad Qualls are available.
It's obvious what a move would do to Bell's value. Mike Adams and Luke Gregerson, whom the Friars are inclined to retain, should start receiving equal attention for their candidacy to fill the vacant closer's role. Adams, assuming he's healthy if and when it happens, is the favorite.
- Joe Nathan (flexor muscle strain) made his second rehab appearance on Tuesday night. On 12 pitches (nine strikes), he allowed a bloop single before inducing a couple of ground-outs and a fly-out. He may rejoin the Minnesota Twins on Friday if his Wednesday appearance goes smoothly.
The Twinkies weren't sure if they wanted him to go back-to-back yet, but they had no reservations after Nathan exerted little effort on the front end. Still, their wariness and his lackluster velocity, though improving, suggests that it'll be awhile before he challenges Matt Capps for saves.
- Sergio Santos struck out three in 1 1/3 perfect innings to finish off the Chicago Cubs in dominant fashion on Tuesday night. It was the right-hander's first opportunity and only second appearance since giving up runs in three straight contests more than a week ago.
That performance is no doubt reassuring to Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Santos has earned himself more leeway than previous closer posers in Pale Hose, but he'll have to keep the meltdowns to a minimum.
- On Tuesday, Leo Nunez fanned the only batter he needed to retire (after he'd issued a walk) to pick up his first save since May 31. Nunez had blown two chances since his last conversion. The Florida Marlins' June swoon has otherwise limited his opportunities to get back on track in the saves column. He's at 20, after recording a combined 19 in April and May.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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