MLB Notes: Yankees place catcher Gary Sanchez on 10-day DL

MLB Notes: Yankees place catcher Gary Sanchez on 10-day DL

BALTIMORE -- The New York Yankees have put catcher Gary Sanchez on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right biceps.

Sanchez was hurt while at the plate in the fifth inning of Saturday's game against the Orioles. After taking a swing, he injured his arm on the follow-through.

He was immediately removed from the game and replaced by Austin Romine. Sanchez hit 20 home runs in 201 at-bats as a rookie last year.

The Yankees intend to recall catcher Kyle Higashioka from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Sanchez has played in all five games for New York and is tied for the team lead with 20 at-bats.

Asked if he was concerned about the severity of the injury, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, '"'Of course. You're talking about the throwing arm."

Girardi added, "We'll evaluate it in a couple days when he gets back to New York."

Cubs: Javier Baez returns day after outfield collision
MILWAUKEE -- Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez is back in the lineup a day after he was injured in an outfield collision.

Baez was set to play against Milwaukee at Miller Park.

Baez was bruised around his left eye when he collided with center fielder Jason Heyward on Friday night and left the game. Baez arrived at the ballpark Saturday and assured manager Joe Maddon that he could see properly.

"I'm 100 percent normal," Baez said. "I went to hit and I was feeling good. Since I came out of the game, I was icing it, so the swelling was going down. It was kind of purple today, but I'm good."

Maddon said Baez will have a regularly scheduled off day Sunday.

Heyward was not in the lineup Saturday night. Maddon said the collision had nothing to do with Heyward's absence (see full story).

Red Sox: David Price progressing in recovery from elbow strain
DETROIT -- David Price threw out to 120 feet Saturday in what Boston manager John Farrell described as "another consistent work day" for the left-hander who is recovering from an elbow strain.

Farrell said Price threw with increments at 60, 90 and 120 feet and "was able to spin the ball on flat ground" before the Red Sox took on the Detroit Tigers.

Boston again fielded a short-handed lineup. Several players have been ill recently.

Farrell said: "There's three different things that are going around. One's a respiratory one, one's flu-like symptoms, and one is the full-blown flu."

Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez did not start, and reliever Joe Kelly was unavailable.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (forearm strain) threw Saturday and is on track to start Tuesday against Baltimore (see full story).

Speed bump: Radar readings up with MLB change to Statcast
NEW YORK -- The scoreboard at Citi Field showed Jacob deGrom hitting 98 mph, and the ballpark buzzed with the Mets star back in top form.

In Seattle, fans surely thought the same when Felix Hernandez's fastball ticked up on opening day. And how about that extra juice from Detroit ace Justin Verlander?

All across the majors, pitchers are ramping up the velocity this season -- or at least it seems that way.

Not so fast. They're actually getting a little help: Major League Baseball has changed the way it's recording and reporting pitch speeds, driving up readings all over the league.

After previously using PITCHf/x to provide velocities to broadcasts and ballparks, Major League Baseball Advanced Media is instead supplying numbers from its Statcast system. They key difference is that PITCHf/x calculates velocity at a set point -- usually 50 or 55 feet from the back of home plate -- while Statcast is able to measure velocity directly out of the pitcher's hand.

Because of that difference, Statcast readings are faster than PITCHf/x by about 0.6 mph on average, according to MLBAM senior data architect Tom Tango.

"We do have the technology to capture the speed right out of the hand now," Tango told The Associated Press. "So that's what we report."

Trouble is, for now, fans and analysts aren't necessarily comparing apples to apples on pitch speeds from last year (see full story).

Pete Mackanin 'not pleased' with Odubel Herrera's base-running blunders

Pete Mackanin 'not pleased' with Odubel Herrera's base-running blunders

Odubel Herrera’s return to the dugout was so slow that home plate umpire Nic Lentz had to clap to speed him along. Herrera obliged, accelerating to an effortless jog until he left Lentz’s sight. Then he went back to a hung head and a crawling pace as he reached the steps. Boos met his ears through it all. 

Herrera was picked off at third base by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina for the second out of the fourth inning on Thursday. It didn’t matter much as the Phillies beat the Cardinals, 5-1 (see Instant Replay), guided by Aaron Nola’s the best outing in a long time. 

However, Herrera made a base-running blunder at the same spot Wednesday night, when he blew through a Juan Samuel stop sign and was out by a mile at home plate to make the final out in the 9th inning of a tie game. And later on Thursday, while on second during a running count and Maikel Franco behind him at first, Herrera didn’t run on the pitch.

These are mistakes any big-leaguer should avoid. And when he’s the only player a team has signed to a long-term deal, which is supposed to last into a new era that involves winning games, the mistakes sting a bit more. 

“I’m not pleased about it,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. 

Had Wednesday night’s gaffe been avoided, maybe the Phillies could have gone on to win. Thursday’s was more embarrassing than damaging. While displeased, Mackanin, who said he thought about giving Herrera Thursday off, understood what happened this time around.

“He was running contact. And when you’re running contact, you’re susceptible to getting picked off by a catcher, especially with a left-handed hitter up,” Mackanin said. “You have to be aware of that. They’re taught to be aware of that. He just didn’t take that first hard step back. And that deters the catcher from throwing to third base. It happened.” 

The Phillies have been picked off eight times this season. Entering Thursday, only four teams had been picked off more. 

The Phillies own a run scoring percentage (percentage of base runners that eventually score) of 28.0, which puts them in the bottom third of the league. While much of that can be attributed to bad bats, mistakes like Herrera’s are not helping the cause. 

At 25, Herrera is still figuring this whole thing out. But he was the Phillies’ only All-Star last year and is supposed to be a consistent presence in the lineup. 

Andres Blanco, on the opposite end of the spectrum, first saw major-league action in 2004, and should be providing a consistent presence in the Phillies’ clubhouse. Yet on Thursday, starting at second base instead of Howie Kendrick, Blanco’s contribution on the base paths felt like the remedy to Herrera’s mental lapses.

In the bottom of the fifth, with two outs and Blanco on second base, Freddy Galvis grounded a ball up the middle. Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz sent and errant flip to second to get the final out, and Blanco was smart enough to round third after the ball got loose in the infield.Mackanin called it a heads-up play. 

“That’s the kind of players you’re looking for, the guys that are going to look for those kinds of things to happen,” Mackanin said, “and they don't assume a play is going to be made and assume they might be able to take an extra base.

“He’s a veteran. I’m glad he paid attention.”

Aaron Nola's best start of the season has Phillies confident he's locking in

Aaron Nola's best start of the season has Phillies confident he's locking in

BOX SCORE

When Aaron Nola pitches like he did Thursday, there aren't too many teams capable of beating him.

Nola was locked in against the Cardinals in the Phillies' 5-1 win, allowing just one run on four hits over 7 1/3 innings with a season-high eight strikeouts (see Instant Replay). His first seven innings were scoreless and his pitch count was at just 89, so he had the chance for his first-ever complete game and the Phillies' first of the season.

But Paul DeJong greeted Nola in the eighth with a solo homer, and after a one-out walk to Matt Carpenter, Nola's day was done. He left to a loud ovation from Phillies fans who have been waiting a long time to see this guy again.

"Well that's the Nola we all have come to know and love," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He was outstanding today. ... He was painting on both sides of the plate. Real good curveball. Threw a lot of good changeups. I think he got tired in that eighth inning, but it was great to see him rebound from the struggles he's been going through."

Nola had elite command of his two-seam fastball and curveball on this day. Five of his eight strikeouts were looking as he continuously froze Cardinals hitters with two-seamers that started outside and darted back over the outside corner. Everything was low in the zone. The curveball was sharp and biting with late life, and St. Louis' hitters kept swinging over top of it.

This was the Nola worth drafting in the first round. This was the Nola who can legitimately be a top-of-the-rotation arm.

"I know what I'm capable of and I know what I can do and today was me," Nola said. "I felt confident in all my pitches today and commanding all my pitches when I wanted to. It was all good in those areas.

"I always try to visualize [success]. I know what I'm capable of doing and what pitches I can command. It's just those days where you feel really good about it and you're really confident about executing to both sides of the plate."

Last year during spring training, Mackanin compared Nola's skill set to that of a pitcher he managed in 1985 in the Class A Midwest League. That pitcher was Greg Maddux. 

"I'll just say this and I probably shouldn't, but I'm just gonna say it: Aaron Nola reminds me a bit of [Maddux]," Mackanin said last February.

"He shows no fear, he's very confident in his abilities and he has the uncanny ability to locate his fastball down in the zone on both sides of the plate. And he really believes in himself."

On Thursday, Nola fit every piece of that description. And just like Nick Pivetta built confidence with his nine-strikeout performance last week against the Red Sox that carried over into a 10-K night against the Cardinals (see story), this has a chance to be a real building block for Nola.

Throwing first-pitch strikes to 18 of 24 hitters will get you a long way.

"He got ahead of almost every hitter I guarantee you, he was strike one," catcher Cameron Rupp said.  

"And when you do that, that opens up so many doors with your pitch sequence, being able to pitch and get in on guys, maybe throw a purpose pitch for a ball, maybe they swing and you're 0-2 and that opens up the outer half even bigger. He threw strikes, he pounded the zone, and when you do that, you're going to have so much success. 

"That's what he did his first year-and-a-half up here. He got away from locating his pitches and the injuries, I'm sure, didn't help, but he attacked the zone and did a great job for us. ... When you do that, the sky is the limit, and he showed that today."