MLB Notes: GM says Mets making changes in handling injuries

MLB Notes: GM says Mets making changes in handling injuries

NEW YORK -- With a bundle of key players on the disabled list, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Friday the team is making some changes to the way it handles injuries.

Alderson is now meeting daily with the training staff, something he hasn't always done in the past. The front office also is communicating often with its "resources" in Port St. Lucie, Florida, at the team's spring training complex.

Alderson said he's having the meetings "to provide context for the decisions that we have to make from day to day based on information that not only arises that day, but may have been sort of gestating over a period of days."

Alderson also said Friday that bigger changes could still be made, but those "might require a little more in the way of investigation and research that sometimes requires a little time."

New York entered Friday having lost seven straight and was seven games under .500 for the first time since September 2014. Alderson spoke before the Mets opened a seven-game homestand by hosting the Los Angeles Angels.

The general manager labeled the injuries a "contributing factor" in the team's struggles. New York has some of its biggest names on the DL, including ace Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, and those DL stints potentially could have been avoided or abbreviated if handled differently (see full story).

Cubs: Heyward ready to return to lineup
CHICAGO -- Outfielder Jason Heyward is ready to return the Chicago Cubs' lineup.

Heyward expects to play Saturday against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers after being sidelined for two weeks because of a sore knuckle on his right hand.

He was hurt May 5 against the New York Yankees and placed on the 10-day disabled list three days later. Heyward is hitting .253 with three homers and 17 RBIs.

With Heyward coming back, manager Joe Maddon acknowledged the Cubs have a "very tough" decision to make. Do they send surging rookie Ian Happ back to the minors or someone else?

Happ, the No. 9 overall draft pick in 2015, was 6 for 17 with two homers and four RBIs entering Friday's game. He was called up from Triple-A Iowa on May 13.

Pirates: Taillon upbeat in cancer fight
PITTSBURGH -- Jameson Taillon felt like he was in a movie, as if he was watching somebody else's life change and not his own.

The Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher felt something "odd" in his groin and alerted trainers while on the road earlier this month in Cincinnati. Two days later, there the 25-year-old was getting pulled aside by a doctor and being told there's a chance he has testicular cancer.

"My heart was racing," Taillon said.

Just not for long.

Taillon's grown accustomed to adversity thanks to a career peppered with unforeseen obstacles, from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in 2014 to sports hernia surgery in 2015 that threatened to sidetrack his young career completely. He finally arrived in the majors last summer, and a bout with cancer isn't going to stop him.

"My immediate thought (after the diagnosis) was what next? What can I do to get better?" Taillon said.

The first step was surgery conducted on May 8, a procedure that sounded more frightening in his mind than in reality. He was home by the end of the day and is already back playing catch and doing light cardio while he awaits further blood tests to determine whether there is any cancer remaining in his system.

This is not how he envisioned his first full season in the majors going. He was 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in his first six starts, pitching with a maturity of a guy who's been around far longer than a few months. Call it the residue of the earlier struggles that delayed his arrival in the big leagues.

"I wasn't going to let this stop me or put me down in the dumps," he said (see full story).

Tim Tebow playing baseball in New Jersey? Tim Tebow playing baseball in New Jersey

Tim Tebow playing baseball in New Jersey? Tim Tebow playing baseball in New Jersey

LAKEWOOD, N.J. -- It’s Tebow Time at the Jersey Shore.

After his first game in the area was rained out Saturday, Tim Tebow took to the field at FirstEnergy Park on Sunday to play against the Lakewood BlueClaws, the Single A Affiliate of the Phillies, as a member of the Columbia Fireflies, the Single A Affiliate of the New York Mets.

Well-known for winning the Heisman Trophy and two National Championships at the University of Florida before playing three seasons in the NFL, Tebow, who was with the Eagles during training camp in 2015, is trying his hand at baseball for a full season after he signed with the Mets last year. After 28 games, the reviews are mixed.

He received a very warm welcome in Lakewood before his first at-bat, where he reached on an error by the shortstop. Big crowds are expected for the final two games of the series. Saturday's game was sold out before it was called because of rain.

Tebow, 29, is hitting .250 with two home runs through his first 100 at-bats of the season, largely against competition seven years his junior. He has more strikeouts (29) this season than hits (25). There were reports earlier this week that he could be promoted after the All-Star break, potentially to High A St. Lucie. However, a move like that could be to see if he has what it takes to remain in the organization given his mediocre numbers thus far.

On the opposite side of the field, Lakewood is home to Mickey Moniak, one of the top prospects in the Phillies’ organization and the top pick in last year’s MLB draft. Through 32 games, the 19-year-old is hitting .279 with nine extra-base hits but no home runs.

Tebow seems to be taking to his new sport in stride, but given his age and that he’s four levels of minor league baseball away from the majors, his competition will only get tougher.

Best of MLB: Brewers rough up Matt Harvey, beat Mets

Best of MLB: Brewers rough up Matt Harvey, beat Mets

MILWAUKEE -- Eric Sogard and Orlando Arcia hit back-to-back homers in the sixth off Matt Harvey, spoiling the choppy return of the New York Mets' starter from a three-game suspension in the Milwaukee Brewers' 7-4 win on Friday night.

Harvey (2-3) allowed seven hits and five runs, including a season-high three homers, in his first outing in 10 days.

The light-hitting Sogard, whose contract was selected earlier Friday from the minors, hit a two-run shot into the second deck in right to break a 2-2 tie. Arcia's pinch-hit solo homer chased Harvey from the mound three batters into sixth with nobody out.

This wasn't the outing that the Mets hoped to get out of Harvey after a drama-filled week. He has apologized for skipping a game last weekend following a late night on the town (see full recap).

McCann, McCullers lead MLB-best Astros past Yanks
NEW YORK -- Mac & Mac made it another successful night for the streaking Houston Astros.

Brian McCann hit a three-run homer against his former team and Lance McCullers Jr. pitched four-hit ball over six shutout innings to lead Houston past the New York Yankees 5-1 on Friday for its fifth straight victory.

Carlos Correa added a pop-fly RBI single for the Astros, who boosted the top record in the majors to 25-11. Off to the best start in team history, Houston has won 10 of 12 and matched its longest winning streak of the season (see full recap).

Contreras, Cubs snap Cardinals' 6-game win streak
ST. LOUIS -- Willson Contreras connected twice for his first career multihomer game, Eddie Butler threw six scoreless innings in his season debut and the Chicago Cubs beat St. Louis 3-2 Friday, ending the Cardinals' six-game winning streak.

The Cubs won for just the second time in seven games. They played without NL MVP Kris Bryant, who was scratched from the lineup with a stomach virus.

Butler (1-0), who pitched the last three seasons with Colorado and was traded to the Cubs before spring training, gave up two hits. He struck out five and walked three (see full recap).

Flowers, Braves end 6-game skid, beat Marlins
MIAMI -- Tyler Flowers has been hitting the ball hard. On Friday night, it paid off with his first home run.

Flowers drove in four runs to help the Atlanta Braves end a six-game losing streak by beating the Miami Marlins 8-4.

"He's been swinging that bat really well. All season, really," Braves manager Brian Snitker said (see full recap).