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On Tuesday, Hanley Ramirez left the game after four innings, claiming that his hamstring was acting up. This obviously didn't sit well with some of his teammates, as Han-Ram was in the middle of an 0-for-14 slump, and there were grumblings that perhaps the shortstop wasn't really hurt.
So while reporters were asking Ramirez about the situation on Wednesday, Dan Uggla challenged his teammate's heart. Among the published quotes were such gems as: "Yeah, you got your $70 million" and "If you really wanted to win, you would have never come out of the game."
The clubhouse was cleared of the media, and manager Fredi Gonzalez held an emergency team meeting. When the dust settled, Ramirez was no longer in the starting lineup for the crucial game against the Braves, replaced by Emilio Bonifacio.
As for Uggla? He put his "significantly not as much money as Ramirez earns" where his mouth is by smacking his 25th homer of the season, a two-run shot off Javier Vazquez. The Marlins won a "must-win" game in the bottom of the ninth when Wes Helms hit a walk-off blast that had the whole team -- including Hanley -- giddy and waiting for him at home plate.
Maybe this will be the turning point for the Marlins. At least for one day, the incident seems to have inspired the team and brought them closer together.
Boone underwent open-heart surgery in March, and Wednesday he was back on the field, playing first base and batting seventh. Even though he went 0-for-3, his teammates were thrilled and in awe just to see him in uniform again.
"I thought he was done permanently, not just this year. It's a testament to him wanting to come back. It's great that he's going to get an opportunity to play," Lance Berkman told the Houston Chronicle.
The game in Chicago ended with Boone on deck, two men on and a 2-0 score. While Hollywood would have scripted the three-run blast, it was not meant to be. But not all inspiration comes from winning the game on the field.
Sometimes just standing there is enough.
• Joe Nathan was one strike away from his 36th save of the season. He never got it. Gordon Beckham and Paul Konerko hit back-to-back homers off the Twins' closer in the ninth, and the White Sox pulled out an unlikely 4-2 victory, avoiding the sweep. Although he didn't do the job this time out, at least Nathan is healthy.
• Colorado's Huston Street has biceps tendinitis and may not pitch the rest of the week. Franklin Morales (who picked up the save on Wednesday) and Rafael Betancourt likely will split duties until his return. The Rockies beat the Mets, thanks to a two-run single by Jason Giambi, his first hit with his new team.
• Mariano Rivera of the Yankees is also getting a few days off, due to groin stiffness -- a luxury afforded to New York with its big lead in the AL East. No closer was needed Wednesday, as CC Sabathia won his 16th game with seven innings of one-run ball against the Orioles. Alex Rodriguez got three of the Yankees' 17 hits, including the 2,500th of his career. He's the third-youngest player to reach that milestone, besting Derek Jeter to the feat by just 20 days.
• Jose Guillen (hamstring) and Brian Bannister (shoulder fatigue) both left the game early for the Royals, and both may well be done for the season. However, the assumption that the team will shut both players down might be premature, because when you end up turning to Yasuhiko Yabuta for your pitching needs, you've clearly got nothing to play for. Catcher Landon Powell tallied his first career grand slam off Yabuta in Oakland's 10-4 win. Though he might be a nice pickup for the rest of 2009, with Kurt Suzuki on the team, Powell needs to find a new position before he becomes fantasy relevant for the future.
• Whether or not Brandon Phillips' wrist is fractured or simply bruised, it hardly seems to be affecting his performance. The Reds second baseman went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs as Cincinnati disposed of the Pirates 5-3 on Wednesday. Drew Stubbs also homered, and Francisco Cordero notched his 30th save of the season.
• The Padres, at 59-76, may not see .500 anytime soon, but pitcher Kevin Correia can. The San Diego hurler improved to 10-10 on the year with 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Nationals. Correia has quietly had a nice second half of the season, with a 3.92 ERA since the All-Star break.
• Arizona got the pitching from Max Scherzer, who held the Dodgers to one run and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings. They also got the hitting from Brandon Allen, who touched Chad Billingsley for a two-run shot in the fifth as the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 4-1. Sometimes the recipe for success is a simple one.
• Felix Hernandez threw eight shutout frames and improved to 14-5 as the Mariners beat the Angels 3-0, spoiling Scott Kazmir's debut with Los Angeles. Kazmir allowed only two runs (one earned) in 6 1/3 innings and at one point retired 18 straight -- a good first impression, even if it didn't result in a W.
Nelson Cruz, Rangers
Cruz went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in the Rangers' 6-4 win over Toronto. Cruz now has 11 RBIs in his past 13 games, and may have to carry this team into the playoffs by himself. Michael Young is expected to miss two weeks with a strained hamstring and Josh Hamilton left Wednesday's game with lower back pain.
Brad Penny, Giants
He was 1-6 in his final 11 starts for Boston, but like John Smoltz before him, a change of scenery from Fenway did the trick. Penny shut out the Phillies over eight innings, allowing just five hits, as he made a successful debut for San Francisco. "It's more than we expected, but I just think this guy was on a mission tonight and it showed," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters after the game. Your mission as a fantasy player? Find a Penny, pick him up ...
Maybe Josh Beckett could use a trade to the National League as well? Beckett allowed home runs to Carl Crawford and Pat Burrell on Wednesday, and has now been victimized by a total of 14 round-trippers in his past five starts. Since 1960, only two other pitchers have been so generous: Jose Lima in 2000 and Aaron Harang in 2004. In a word -- bleah! Despite the 14-5 record there's a lot to be worried about here.
• What does it say to fantasy owners when the Twins activate Glen Perkins from the disabled list and, even with expanded rosters, pretty much say that they want him nowhere near their playoff run? Feel free to cut Perkins, even though he has now been activated from the disabled list, as he has been optioned to Triple-A Rochester.
• Tampa Bay hopes it can pull another David Price out of its organization's hat, recalling pitcher Wade Davis from Triple-A Durham. He'll get a start this weekend against the Tigers, thanks to the void left by the Scott Kazmir trade. Opposing batters have hit only .231 against Davis this season.
• Boston has recalled outfielder Josh Reddick from Triple-A Pawtucket. With seven outfielders on the roster (including Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay, J.D. Drew, Brian Anderson, Rocco Baldelli and Joey Gathright ) it's unlikely that Reddick will get much playing time.
• Surprisingly, the Rangers have activated Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the 15-day disabled list. The catcher needs shoulder surgery, but will put that off until after the season so he can be available as a DH and extra bat off the bench during the Rangers' stretch drive. Playing time behind the plate, however, is extremely unlikely.
• Bobby Crosby is back with the A's after being on the disabled list since Aug. 18 with a strained calf. Expect him to split time with Daric Barton at first base, and possibly put in a few innings at third base as well. Also expect him to hit no better than the .223 he's hit all season long.
• The Giants, concerned that Bengie Molina's injury problems are simply not going to go away, have summoned Buster Posey to the majors. Posey, the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft, was hitting .321 with five home runs in 35 games at Triple-A Fresno. Posey, who started the season at Class A San Jose, will definitely see major league action this month, as Eli Whiteside is pretty much the only healthy option behind the plate for San Francisco.
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Tristan H. Cockcroft: Well, everyone who knows me knows I love Chris Davis, and since his recall he's batting .355 with two homers and nine RBIs in eight games. Of course, he's still an impatient whiff king, with eight K's and one walk during that time. There's a downside, but yes, I do think he's back, or at least to the high-power, low-average standards I forecasted for him in the preseason.
-- Full chat transcript
Eric Karabell: He should have been for the past week when Bengie Molina was hurt... Eli Whiteside started last night! Anyway, I don't know if they will use Posey much. I'm assuming Molina is just about ready to play.
-- Full chat transcript
Thursday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Jason Grey, 3 p.m. ET
• Ouch! Jeff Samardzija's name was being talked about by the Cubs as a possible September addition to the starting rotation. After last night's outing, where he allowed 10 hits and six runs in only 2 2/3 innings for Triple-A Iowa, we're not so sure Chicago is quite as excited about that plan anymore.
• Jon Garland's ERA on the road this season is 3.39, far better than his 5.35 ERA at home. Even though this is technically a home game as he dons a Dodgers uniform for the first time, feel free to consider it a road game and start him accordingly.
• Milwaukee's Manny Parra seems to have the Cardinals figured out, even if he's been shaky against most everybody else, with a 2.29 ERA against St. Louis in 2009.
• For more on Thursday's games, check Daily Notes.