MLB Notes: Machado doesn't need knee surgery

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MLB Notes: Machado doesn't need knee surgery

When Orioles third baseman Manny Machado left Monday's game against the Rays, the worst was assumed. He grimaced in pain and left the field on a stretcher after suffering a gruesome left knee injury.

According to the Baltimore Sun, via HardBallTalk, Machado didn't tear his ACL or MCL but tore his medial patella tendon ligament and will not need surgery. He's expected to miss six to eight weeks.

The 21-year-old third baseman, widely recognized as one of the top defensive players in MLB, ended the season with 14 home runs, 71 RBIs and 51 doubles, which were good for second-best in the league.

The Orioles entered Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays five games out of the second AL wild-card spot, and without Machado, their difficult road back to the playoffs will be significantly tougher. However, Baltimore might count avoiding a more serious injury to its young third baseman as victory enough as the season winds down.

Reds: Cueto could be No. 1 starter in postseason
After missing three months with strained muscles in his pitching shoulder, Johnny Cueto may return to the No. 1 slot in the Reds' rotation for the postseason.

Dusty Baker told the Cincinnati Enquirer, via HardBallTalk, that "we'll see" if Cueto has shown enough to be placed into the spot with a potential one-game wild-card start looming. 

The Reds entered Tuesday night tied with the Pirates for the top wild-card spot and two games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. With five games remaining in the season, the Reds end their season with a three-game series against the Pirates, with Cueto slotted to start the final game of the year this Sunday. Baker will face a dilemma of sorts as to whether or not he starts Cueto on Sunday or saves him for the potential wild-card matchup.

In his two appearances since returning from the DL, Cueto has pitched 12 innings, allowing just two runs and eight hits while totaling 10 strikeouts. 

Cardinals: Holliday misses third straight game
St. Louis leftfielder Matt Holliday missed the Cardinals' Tuesday night matchup with the Nationals with a stiff back, according to FSMidwest, via HardBallTalk.

This will mark the third straight game Holliday has sat out, which could be a problem for the Cards as they try to seal the NL Central division title. St. Louis currently has a two-game lead over the Reds and Pirates. They are also currently dealing with the absence of first baseman Allen Craig, who sprained his foot earlier this month and whose status remains unclear going forward.

The bigger question here is whether Holliday will be back for the postseason. His 20 home runs and 91 RBIs are both ranked second on the team this season, and without his offensive firepower, the Cards' offense could struggle.

Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

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Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former major leaguer Andy Marte died in separate traffic accidents early Sunday in their native Dominican Republic.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. It was not clear if Ventura was driving.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Ventura, 25, burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. He was a fierce competitor always willing to challenge hitters inside, then deal with the ramifications when they decided to charge the mound.

He went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and the next year he helped the long-downtrodden Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985. He proceeded to dominate San Francisco in both of his starts, though the Royals would ultimately lose in seven games.

"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. "He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano."

Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura quit school at 14 and was laboring on a construction crew to support his family when he heard about a tryout, which led to a spot in the Royals' academy on the island.

The right-handed Ventura went 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA last season, and wound up pitching his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

Fans began arriving at Kauffman Stadium shortly after Ventura's death was announced, leaving flowers, hats and other mementos outside the stadium. Flags outside the ballpark also were lowered to half-staff.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played in the Major Leagues from 2005-2010 with Atlanta and Cleveland and returned in 2014 with Arizona. He hit .218 with 21 home runs and 99 RBIs in the big leagues. He spent the last two seasons in South Korea, where he hit 22 homers last year.

Both Ventura and Marte were part of the Dominican winter league team Aguilas Cibaenas, though neither was playing this season.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte that was issued before Ventura's death became known.

Ventura is the second young star pitcher to die in past four months. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, 24, was among three men killed in a boating accident in September.

Two other active Dominican baseball players have died on the country's dangerous highways in recent years.

St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Oscar Taveras -- a close friend of Ventura -- died in 2014 when he crashed in his hometown of Puerto Plata. He was 22. Shortstop Andujar Cedeno died at age 31 in a 2000 crash in the city of La Romana.

A 2015 study by the World Health Organization found that the Dominican Republic had the highest traffic accident death rate in the Americas, with a rate of 29.3 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

The Phillies on Thursday officially announced the signing of outfielder Michael Saunders to a one-year deal with a club option for 2018. 

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Saunders will make $9 million this season with the Phillies and the club option for 2018 will be worth $11 million with escalators potentially pushing it to $14 million.

Saunders, 30, is the left-handed hitting outfield bat the Phils were seeking. He hit 24 home runs for the Blue Jays last season in his walk year, making the AL All-Star team before slumping in the second half.

Saunders hit .298/.372/.551 with 16 homers in 82 games for the Blue Jays before the All-Star break, then hit .178/.282/.357 with eight homers in 58 games after.

He had a good year against same-handed pitching, hitting .275 with a .927 OPS and eight homers against lefties. 

He'll likely start in right field for the Phillies, with Odubel Herrera in center and Howie Kendrick in left (see Phils' projected lineup).

It was important to Phillies GM Matt Klentak that the player he signed to fill the spot in the outfield was not going to block young outfielders like Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and others.

On a one-year deal, Saunders came relatively cheap to the Phils, lingering in free agency as other hitters found contracts. In the middle of last summer, Saunders seemed poised for a multi-year contract like the four-year, $52 million deal Josh Reddick signed with the Astros. His second half cost him some money.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Saunders, the Phillies designated right-hander Severino Gonzalez for assignment.