MIAMI — The Phillies will be without their best utility man and bat off the bench for at least six weeks.
Andres Blanco needs surgery to repair his broken left index finger. He suffered the injury making a tag play at third base during Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh. According to manager Peter Mackanin, Blanco will have a pin inserted in the finger during surgery on Wednesday.
“That’s a shame,” said Mackanin, who has called Blanco the best utility man he’s seen in his 47 years in pro baseball. “He was one of our best players. Maybe in six weeks he can come back. But it’s going to be a while.”
With the trade deadline a week away, Blanco would have been a nice fit on some contending teams. Now, he will stay put.
Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and outfielder Peter Bourjos remain strong trade possibilities. Hellickson started Monday night against the Marlins, who are interested in his services (see story). A source confirmed a Fox Sports report that the Phillies have been scouting the low levels of the Marlins farm system in preparation for a potential deal. The Marlins are considering other pitchers, as well. Some industry insiders view Hellickson and Bourjos as back-up targets for teams looking for pitching and outfield help. Translation, the fate of bigger names on the trade market might have to shake out before the Phillies know if they can strike a deal. The trade deadline is next Monday.
The Phillies recalled infielder Taylor Featherston from Triple A to take Blanco’s roster spot (see story).
Mackanin gave a succinct answer when asked whether the team considered bringing up top prospect J.P. Crawford.
“None,” he said “No talk about him.”
Crawford could still see time in the majors later this season.
The Phillies are expected to make another roster move later this week when Aaron Altherr’s minor-league rehab assignment expires after Wednesday’s game. Altherr, who suffered a wrist injury that required surgery in March, is playing at Triple A. The Phillies could bring him up Thursday. To clear a roster spot for Altherr, the Phils could trade Bourjos or subtract a player such as seldom-used Jimmy Paredes.
Altherr was on target to be a starter in the Phillies outfield before he went down in spring training. He will play a corner outfield spot when he arrives.
“I'm sure he'll be here sooner rather than later,” Mackanin said. “I'm anxious to see him. He's important for us to get a good look at. I'd like to see two months' worth if I could.”
Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp are both back in the Phillies' starting lineup Monday in Miami after being hit by pitches over the weekend in Pittsburgh.
Franco was hit on the wrist and Rupp on the head. Franco hasn't started since Friday, but came in for Andres Blanco Sunday after Blanco fractured his left index finger.
Rupp was hit on the head Saturday but passes MLB's concussion protocol and is back behind the plate to catch Jeremy Hellickson in the Phillies' series opener against the Marlins.
It's a good thing for the Phils because both players have been power sources. Franco is hitting .259 with 18 homers and 53 RBIs, and Rupp is hitting .276 with 17 doubles and 10 homers. Rupp had a homer and three RBIs last Friday night in the Phillies' only win at PNC Park.
Slumping Peter Bourjos, just 4 for his last 36, moves down the eight-hole. Cesar Hernandez leads off.
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Freddy Galvis, SS
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P
And for the Marlins:
1. J.T. Realmuto, C
2. Martin Prado, 3B
3. Christian Yelich, LF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
5. Marcell Ozuna, CF
6. Derek Dietrich, 2B
7. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
8. Don Kelly, 1B
9. Jarred Cosart, P
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs acquired hard-throwing reliever Aroldis Chapman in a trade with the New York Yankees on Monday, giving the NL Central leaders a boost as they try for their first World Series title in more than a century.
The Cubs paid a steep price, parting with top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres and versatile pitcher Adam Warren in the four-player package going to the Yankees. Chapman faced a domestic violence allegation in the offseason that cost him a 29-game suspension, and the left-hander is eligible for free agency after this year.
But there is no doubting the talent of the 28-year-old Chapman, who went 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 20 saves in 31 games with New York. He threw a 105.1 mph fastball to Baltimore's J.J. Hardy last Monday night, matching the fastest since Major League Baseball began tracking speeds in 2008.
With lefty-batting sluggers Bryce Harper of Washington and Brandon Belt of San Francisco possibly looming in the playoffs, the addition of Chapman gives manager Joe Maddon one of the majors' top assets when in need of a late strikeout.
New York had won six of eight heading into Monday night's game at Houston, but it still faces long odds of getting to the playoffs. All-Stars Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances are still at the back of the bullpen, allowing the Yankees to trade Chapman now and still consider trying for the postseason depending on how they fare ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline.
The Yankees made the decision to trade Chapman after his agents said he would not agree to a new contract that would start in 2017, a person familiar with the talks said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statement on those talks was authorized.
If New York slips back any further, it could engage in a rare sell-off for the franchise. Miller, who is signed through 2018, also could be traded. Outfielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman Mark Teixeira and pitcher Ivan Nova are eligible for free agency after the season and could be sought by contenders.
Chapman quickly turned into one of baseball's most dominant relievers when he broke into the majors in 2010 with Cincinnati. He threw the 62 fastest pitches in the major leagues last season, ranging from 103.92 to 102.36 mph.
Chapman saved 146 games with a 2.17 ERA in six years with the Reds before he was traded to New York last December after a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers fell through when it was learned Florida police investigated an accusation of domestic violence involving the Cuban pitcher.
Prosecutors declined to file charges, citing conflicting accounts, and Chapman was suspended for the first 29 games of the season, losing $1,856,557 of his $11,325,000 salary. He was the first player penalized a finite number of games under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy.
"I regret that I did not exercise better judgment and for that I am truly sorry," Chapman said in a team statement Monday. "Looking back, I feel I have learned from this matter and have grown as a person. My girlfriend and I have worked hard to strengthen our relationship, to raise our daughter together, and would appreciate the opportunity to move forward without revisiting an event we consider part of our past."
Chapman and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also got into a heated argument in the ninth inning of a July 2014 game, but Rizzo said last month he was fine with the idea of acquiring the reliever.
The Yankees also received minor league outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford in the trade for Chapman. McKinney, a first-round pick in the 2013 draft, was acquired along with All-Star shortstop Addison Russell in the 2014 deal that sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland.
Warren was drafted by New York and made his major league debut with the Yankees in 2012. He was traded to Chicago in the December deal that moved infielder Starlin Castro from the Cubs to the Yankees.