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BALTIMORE ORIOLES
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Placed OF-L Jay Gibbons on the 15-day DL (hip, knee),
retroactive to 5/27. [6/2]

Recalled INF-R Ed Rogers from Ottawa (Triple-A). [6/3]

Activated RHP Daniel Cabrera from the 15-day DL; designated
C-R Raul Chavez for assignment. [6/5]

Losing Gibbons isn’t quite the disaster it once was, but that’s because
Corey Patterson is providing some amount of lefty sock in the lineup. But it does keep the Orioles’ lineup left with mostly-hopeless choices, where there’s the almost daily question of which two of
Luis Matos, Jeff Conine, or Kevin
Millar
to play, or whether or not the team should triple its
self-hobbling fun by interrupting the education of Nick
Markakis
so that all three can play. Yes, you’ve really got
something when Markakis’ rough introduction to the major leagues is the
highlight of that group, but the Orioles are trying to do something with
their feeble assortment of choices by spotting Brendan
Fahey
and Rogers in the outfield. As ideas go, this is about as
effective as adding turnips to the menu at your Yummy McNasty greasepit of
choice: yes, it’s different, but not really better, and telling people that
you’ll someday have something much better and entirely different, but
possibly with flexible turnips, doesn’t really inspire consumer confidence.

Cabrera’s return coincides with the sluggardly decision to take
Bruce Chen out of the rotation for a start, allowing the
organization to stretch the experiment of “Exactly how unready is
Adam Loewen, anyway?” out at least one more swing
through the rotation. With five walks in five innings in his first start
back, Cabrera doesn’t seem to have picked up any additional command during
his time away, so hopes that he’s going to be magically Mazzonified into a
quality starter remain premature for the time being.

Meanwhile, given their past antipathy, Chen might not mind spending his days
in the pen, remote from Leo Mazzone, and Loewen might eventually demonstrate
a capacity to give up less than two baserunners or a run per inning.
Happily, the Orioles do seem intent on leaving Loewen in a starting role,
but they’re going to be better off seeing if they can get Chen back on
track. To give Chen his prop (singular), he did post his first quality start
of the year two starts ago, and after eight bad gigs, that has to be seen as
something hopeful, but for the time being, he’s been reduced to trying to
argue that he’s top dog in the “DIscredited VEteran Lefty” in the
pen (DIVEL), or second pup to John Halama.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Placed RHP Jeff Nelson on the 15-day DL (ulnar neuritis),
retroactive to 6/3; recalled RHP Agustin Montero from
Charlotte (Triple-A). [6/4]

You can’t say the Sox didn’t test Nelson’s limits, working him on
back-to-back days twice, and asking him to pitch four times in seven days.
I’d call that a decent bit of tire-kicking to see if Nelson’s really fully
operable, or if he’ll just wind up being operationable yet again. Moral
ambiguities of relying on a guilty PED fiend like Montero aside, he should
be fine for a second go-round. Meanwhile, the Sox might be sensibly more
cautious about how quickly they bring Nelson back, because if he can regain
any element of his command to frisbee a few wicked sliders in August,
September, and October, he’ll be an asset.

DETROIT TIGERS
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Optioned RHP Chris Spurling to Toledo (Triple-A). [6/4]

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
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Recalled 3B-L Mark Teahen from Omaha (Triple-A); optioned
SS/2B-B Andres Blanco to Omaha. [6/3]

Optioned RHP Seth Etherton to Omaha; recalled RHP
Leonel Nunez from Omaha. [6/5]

Take these both as positive signs that there’s a new sheriff in town (and
one with the good sense not to say any such thing). It’s hard not to be
sympathetic to Etherton, because he’s managed to get his career started back
up again after nearly losing it to shoulder injuries, but let’s face it, if
you can’t cut the mustard here, you can’t make it on pickle relish alone to
be a major league starter. The Royals haven’t named a new fifth man in his
absence, but there’s no need to hurry. Teahen had no problem hitting in
Omaha, pasting PCL pitchers at a .380/.500/.658 clip in 24 games, and I can
see this as a case of seeing if there’s ever going to be a player named
Teahen or not. Alex Gordon might have to wait till
September or next spring, but in the meantime, Dayton Moore would be better
off sorting out who has value on the 40-man, and that involves looking at
Teahen and getting a complete, day-in/day-out impression of Angel
Berroa
. Consider it an immersion experience, as Moore squeezes into
a few weeks or months what the last couple of years have been like to Royals
fans.

MINNESOTA TWINS
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Optioned RHP Scott Baker to Rochester (Triple-A). [6/1]

Recalled 1B/3B-B Terry Tiffee from Rochester. [6/2]

It figures that the Twins would make a pair of moves to solve a pair of
problems, and wind up solving neither. Tiffee doesn’t really offer the team
much of a solution to any of its problems. A contact hitter with little
patience, he doesn’t hit well enough to provide a reasonable claimant for
the open DH slot, and doesn’t play third effectively enough to really offer
a regular alternative to Tony Batista at the hot corner.
Spotting Batista with Tiffee now and again can’t hurt, of course, but it’s
another example of making do from among the lousy options Terry Ryan
restricted himself to this winter. Ideally, you might hope that
Mike Cuddyer would move back to third, with
Jason Kubel taking over in right, but that’s probably too
obvious an acknowledgment that the team flubbed the left side of the
infield.

The rotation situation is a little more ticklish, because the Twins
understandably want to see if they can make Carlos Silva
useful again if they’re going to entertain any hope of peddling him by the
deadline. With Boof Bonser and Francisco
Liriano
both doing well in the rotation, Scott
Baker
was the one pushed out of the nest. Ideally, the Twins won’t
let this devolve into a cuckoo situation, preferring Silva for too long over
its own hatchlings, but Baker was the kid who’d pitched badly, and a couple
of spins through the Rochester rotation won’t hurt. If Silva’s pitching for
somebody else in August, and the Twins wind up with all three of their young
hurlers in the rotation by season’s end, it will have worked out for the
best.

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Returned RF-R Gary Sheffield to the 15-day DL (wrist),
retroactive to 5/30; purchased the contract of OF-R Kevin
Thompson
from Columbus (Triple-A). [6/1]

Placed RHP Darrell Rasner on the 15-day DL (shoulder
discomfort); recalled LHP Matt Smith from Columbus. [6/3]

Sheffield’s season may very well be over. Everyone’s hoping that a
“heal thyself” approach might prevent a season-ending surgery and
keep Sheffield in the club’s playoff plans, but it appears to be a slender
possibility. This radically alters the Yankees’ outfield situation, because
with Hideki Matsui already laid low, you’re left with a
sort of grim recognition that, yes, Melky Cabrera is
probably the team’s second-best player in the outfield, and more plaintive
questions over how much Terrence Long is toxic to a lineup.
(Hmmm, could this add up to a consulting gig for Allard Baird? Inquiring
minds want to know.) Least-likely among their solutions will be their
turning to either Kevin Reese (who’s back in Columbus) or
Thompson.

Although Thompson wasn’t doing all bad as a Clipper, hitting .288/.380/.453,
he’s going to have to get past Long and Bernie Williams if
he’s going to get much playing time, and that seems sadly unlikely. However,
keep in mind that’s a ripple effect of a relatively good thing, which is Joe
Torre’s recently-discovered trust in Andy Phillips. With
Phillips getting starts at first and DH, that lowers the likelihood that
Torre will have some underling write in both Long’s and Williams’ names on
the same lineup card. You can count on Yankees fans to continue baying for
an outfielder, any outfielder, but “discovering” Phillips
represents one bit of silver lining, and if the organization had the nerve
to just alternate Williams and Thompson in right, things wouldn’t be quite
as dire as you might think.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Placed 2B-R Mark Ellis on the 15-day DL (broken thumb),
retroactive to 5/31; recalled C-R Jeremy Brown from
Sacramento (Triple-A). [6/1]

Optioned LHP Ron Flores to Sacramento. [6/3]

Activated RHP Rich Harden from the 15-day DL; optioned C-R
Jeremy Brown and RHP Matt Roney to
Sacramento. [6/4]

How smart is Oakland after all? Losing Ellis isn’t only insignificant if you
were expecting him to repeat last season’s performance this year–it’s a
particularly hard blow when it appears that the default selection for
replacing him is Marco Scutaro. You might hope that
Antonio Perez would get a look, but as the coldest of all
cold Opening Day roster players marooned in a usage pattern one step above
Torre-fied and one below “Neglected,” the notion might not pop up
in Ken Macha’s mental menu. So a bad lineup gets worse, and it’s likely to
stay that way.

Perhaps we have to call this the Curse of Dick Green,
because second base remains the organization’s historically ill-fated
position. Green’s refusal to play for Charlie Finley at any price may just
as well have been accompanied with a hex that forced fans to endure
Tony Phillips‘ perpetual injury concerns, Brent
Gates
‘ ruined wrist, or ever having to watch the immortal
Shooty Babbitt, but it seems like Ellis is just as snakebit
as everyone else the team has turned to in the decades since Green’s
departure for a Finley-free lifestyle.

Brown and Roney got sent back down to Sacto in anticipation of the returns
of Jay Witasick and Milton Bradley from
the DL today, and I’ll touch on that in greater length in our next
installment..

TEXAS RANGERS
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Purchased the contract of RHP John Wasdin; optioned LHP
C.J. Wilson to Oklahoma (Triple-A). [6/1]

It was only a matter of time, but the suggestion of a Rangers’ staff without
its Wasdin is like a magazine without a breathless Paris Hilton
interview–“I like champagne-brand champagne. It says so on the
bottle.” “She can read!” With Wasdin, it might be a matter of
his deathless ability to throw strikes, and his zen-like unflappability in
the face of another bad day, courtesy of his junk and that right-field jet
stream in The Mallpark. He was doing his usual thing in Oklahoma, striking
out 61 and walking 17 in 58 frames, with an impressive 2.17 ERA masking a
bossload of of unearned runs; he was actually allowing 3.6 runs per nine.
You can probably expect him to do what he always has as a utility
pitcher–sometimes mopping up, sometimes making a spot start, and perhaps
filching the occasional save.

CHICAGO CUBS
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Placed RHP Scott Williamson on the 15-day DL (elbow
soreness); recalled RHP Carlos Marmol from West Tenn
(Double-A). [6/4]

Williamson’s elbow soreness doesn’t seem to be of the long-term variety, so
it’s expected that he’ll be back after the minimum, but the pen was
short-handed, and this is being treated as another opportunity to take a
quick peek at one of the system’s better arms. Marmol was dominant in
Double-A, striking out 67 in 58 IP across 11 starts (against 25 walks),
allowing only 42 hits and one home run. In The Show, he’s expected to only
pitch out of the pen, and the caprices of Cub roster management may well
make his cameo especially brief. Perhaps Dusty Baker might conjure
memories of another former catcher who blossomed as a reliever on his
watch–Felix Rodriguez. Like a young Rodriguez, Marmol
throws a good low-90s fastball, and given the results, it looks like his
work on his off-speed and breaking stuff has generated benefits.

CINCINNATI REDS
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Optioned RHP Justin Germano to Louisville (Triple-A). [6/5]

COLORADO ROCKIES
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Activated C-R Yorvit Torrealba from the 15-day DL; optioned
C-R Miguel Ojeda to Colorado Springs (Triple-A). [6/2]

Designated RHP Sun-Woo Kim and INF-L Jason
Smith
for assignment; recalled RHP Scott Dohmann
and 2B/SS-L Omar Quintanilla from Colorado Springs
(Triple-A). [6/3]

Nothing like a losing streak to fire up a crusading zeal for roster
improvment. Frankly, both Kim and Smith are easily-replaced journeymen, so
ditching them both doesn’t really matter much in the grand scheme of things.
There’s good reason for the team to be interested in sorting out whether or
not Dohmann and Quintanilla are going to stick on the 40-man roster. Dohmann
lost his spot to Kim’s return from the DL, but Kim’s pitching in the last
eleven days made it easy to reverse the decision. Dohmann isn’t a kid at 28,
so if he’s going to stick, there’s no time like the present. Quintanilla was
not hitting well at Colorado Springs, only .286/.354/.381 in a nice hitter’s
park, but he is only 24, and if he can play both short and second, his
hitting lefty might make him a nifty alternative to Jamey
Carroll
at second while giving the Rockies a solid alternative to
Clint Barmes. It all represents improvement over their past
fascination with Luis Gonzalez.

Salvation can find many forms, but while a catching platoon of Torrealba and
J.D. Closser might not represent a reversal of fortune, it
probably is the best-case alignment of the club’s in-house catching
alternatives for the time being. Torrealba’s not the prospect some Giants
fans briefly pretended him to be, but he’s a good receiver and six weeks shy
of his 28th birthday, and as a catch-and-throw alternative to Closser, gives
the Rockies a decent job-sharing arrangement behind the plate. To a certain
extent, all of those options–Closser and Torrealba, Danny
Ardoin
or Ojeda–are all basically fighting for one job,
because eventually Chris Iannetta will be up, probably to
stay. That might happen sooner than roster September expansion if Iannetta
continues to hit at a .317/.414/.600 clip in Double-A.

FLORIDA MARLINS
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Activated RHP Carlos Martinez from the 15-day DL; purchased
the contract of LHP Taylor Tankersley from Carolina
(Double-A); designated RHPs Todd Wellemeyer and
Franklyn German for assignment. [6/2]

The Marlins are a good example of the freedom you have if you can avoid
having any major financial commitments to the mediocre and well-traveled.
German has yet to pitch since being reactivated from the DL, and given his
poor performance in the early going, he may well slip through waivers.
Wellemeyer might not slip through quite as easily, but again, the Fish can
afford to take the risk, since both pitchers were other people’s castoffs,
and were not counted among the organization’s premium pitching prospects
(homegrown or imported). If there’s a message here, beyond the
acknowledgment that performance matters, consider it pointed at the equally
ineffective Matt Herges, and perhaps eventually Scuffy
Moehler
. I don’t think it’s inconceivable that we’ll see them field a
pitching staff in September entirely made up of people who have shown up on
prospect lists, and that’s kind of cool, almost the exact opposite of what
the original Marlins staff of 1993–a solid collection of journeymen, vets,
and expansion draft picks–was built around.

Martinez is back and dialing it up into the low to mid 90s, so he should be an
asset if he gets regular work. Another one of the team’s home-grown goodies,
Tankersley seems to have undergone a successful conversion to relief work.
He’s up having tossed 28.1 IP, allowing 25 baserunners while striking out
40. That’s not really that remarkable, since we’re talking about
somebody who was pitching at a big-college program, Alabama, two years ago.
He’s not overpowering, but he’s not a powder-puff lefty either, and might
well turn into a significant asset as a reliever.

HOUSTON ASTROS
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Purchased the contract of RHP Chris Sampson from Round Rock
(Triple-A); optioned LHP Mike Gallo to Round Rock;
transferred 1B-R Jeff Bagwell from the 15- to the 60-day
DL. [6/2]

The strange case of Mike Gallo–major league pitcher?–never seems to
achieve any kind of lasting resolution, but that’s because no matter how
often they make him one, the Astros keep rediscovering that Gallo just isn’t
a consistent or even occasionally effective situational lefty. With
Trever Miller doing a plausibly survivable job in the role,
and the club’s frequent experience of doing without a lefty reliever
altogether, Gallo was suitably doomed to demotion.

Having figured out that a pitcher who does nothing well isn’t the best use
of a roster spot, the Astros made the refreshing change to Sampson. He was
doing well in Round Rock, tossing ten starts, logging 61.1 IP, allowing 3.4
runs per nine and boasting a nice 35-5 strikeout-walk ratio. Brooks
Kieschnick
junkies might also note that Sampson was hitting .522,
with only four strikeouts in 23 at-bats. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise:
when he was drafted by the Astros in 1999, Sampson was a shortstop out of
Texas Tech. He didn’t do that badly for a future pitcher at the plate in his single
season down in Auburn
as a shortstop, drawing walks and stealing bases
at a 21-of-26 clip. Utility pitcher and pinch-runner? That would be sort of
cool. Now 28, he’s in his fourth year of pitching in the
system, and came into this season with a 4-1 career strikeout-walk ratio.
You wouldn’t think the team would need a second long relief option behind
Dave Borkowski, but the rotation’s looking pretty frayed
with Roy Oswalt‘s health in doubt and Wandy
Rodriguez
‘s clay feet showing up a few weeks after the rest of him
did this season.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
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Placed 2B-R Jeff Kent on the 15-day DL (sprained wrist);
recalled LF-R Joel Guzman from Las Vegas (Triple-A). [6/1]

Optioned LHP Tim Hamulack to Las Vegas; recalled LHP
Hong-Chih Kuo from Las Vegas. [6/4]

You might think that losing Kent on top of already losing Bill
Mueller
means a return to last season’s rash of injuries, but this
year’s team is well-positioned to handle the losses. Admittedly, Kent’s bat
won’t be easily replaced, not if the plan is to have his lineup slot filled
by Guzman. Guzman wasn’t doing much damage at Vegas, hitting only
.291/.346/.418, and our own Kevin Goldstein has already done a good job of
documenting what’s wrong with the big kid.

Nevertheless, the Dodgers are electing to press him into action at third,
where he’ll alternate with Willy Aybar and Olmedo
Saenz
. Aybar’s also going to be a major part of the committee
that’s manning second in Kent’s place, alternating with Ramon
Martinez
and perhaps Oscar Robles. Having already
gotten good work from Aybar, Andre Ethier and Matt
Kemp
in the outfield, and Russell Martin behind
the plate, the Dodgers seem well-positioned to handle the departure of
another fragile veteran. Mueller’s gone for another month by the look of
things, but Kent might respond well to a couple of weeks off, which would
put Aybar back at third and Guzman in the PCL once he comes back to the
keystone.

I’m less sanguine about exchanging Hamulack for Kuo, but that’s just because
I’m enthusiastic about Kuo’s ability to be something more than a situational
clown. If he shows better command, he’ll do more than just stick, he could
become one of the club’s best relievers.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
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Outrighted RHP Chris Mabeus to Nashville (Triple-A);
optioned LHP Dana Eveland to Nashville; purchased the
contracts of LHP Zack Jackson and RHP Allan
Simpson
from Nashville; transferred RHP Rick
Helling
from the 15- to the 60-day DL. [6/3]

Simpson’s just the latest warm body to be cycled through one of the
non-Danny Kolb, touchable bullpen roster spots, and likely
to learn what everyone else has before him, which is that where that roster
merry-go-round is concerned, Kolb keeps his chair and never has to dance.

Perhaps Kolb is profiting from the club’s greatest concern, which is putting
together a rotation. Jackson is up as the latest sometime solution to the
problem. Arguably the steal of the Lyle Overbay deal with
the Blue Jays, he was doing okay as a Sound, allowing 3.6 runs per nine, but
putting up only a 39-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 57 IP. A strikethrower from
his days in Triple-A, he’s got a good assortment and better-than-average
velocity for a lefty, so if that works better than Eveland’s overpowering
but wild fastball, score one for the command fiends.

I’m not really happy about this turn of events, considering the Brewers are
mulling whether or not to start Jackson or Jeremi
Gonzalez
–remember kids, a hole in the head is not an option.
Eveland’s five-start trial really wasn’t a legitimate shot, and considering
the club’s got the Jackson v. Gonzalez debate to resolve in one slot, and
situational washout Jorge de la Rosa futzing around in
another, this looks more like roster solutions by Otis Campbell than a coherent
plan for either developing talent or keep the team’s fading postseason hopes
alive. Helling might bring an end to some aspect of this madness, but he’s
two rehab starts away from being activated.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
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Optioned RHP Gavin Floyd to Scranton/Wilkes Barre
(Triple-A). [6/2]

There was a happy synchronicity for the Phillies, in that once they’d
plugged Eude Brito to replace Jon Lieber
on the double-quick, they also recognized they’d be getting Cole
Hamels
back from the DL in time to take Floyd’s next turn, at which
point it was worth getting punitive and deservedly dropping Floyd a rung
down for his miserable first two months. Giving up 23 runs in his last four
starts (18.2 IP) no doubt cinched things, so Floyd can work on getting back
on track while the team gets to see if Brito’s generally good fastball is
enough to keep him in the rotation.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
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Placed C-B Ryan Doumit on the 15-day DL (reinjured
hamstring); UT-R Yurendell De Caster from Indianapolis.
[6/5]

Doumit’s re-injury is a bit frustrating, but it does keep things simple
behind the plate. It’s pretty clearly becoming Ronny
Paulino
‘s job to lose (reducing Humberto Cota to a
backup role he’s well-suited for). Ideally, the Pirates will be able to get
Doumit healthy and then start using him as the sweetener in deadline deals
to dump veteran junk like Sean Casey and Jeromy
Burnitz
, and get somebody else’s blue chipper for their trouble. De
Caster wasn’t hitting at Indy, so it isn’t like Jose
Hernandez
should start losing sleep.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Placed C-R Mike Matheny on the 15-day DL (concussion),
retroactive to 6/1; recalled C-R Eliezer Alfonzo from
Connecticut (Double-A). [6/2]

Optioned 2B-R Kevin Frandsen to Fresno. [6/5]

Alfonzo’s arrival highlights the team’s lack of options. He flopped at
Fresno at season’s start, and had to re-do an assignment at Double-A, where
he also wasn’t hitting. When you’re 27, already suspended for PED use, and
not hitting all too well, your opportunities start depending on the
occasional injury and not your purported ability. This really was a
miserable choice as far as finding a replacement for Matheny, but when the
alternatives include Todd Greene and Justin
Knoedler
, perhaps this is the product of having one of the most
durable catchers in baseball. Unfortunately, even a player as universally
respected for his toughness as Matheny can be broken.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
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Purchased the contract of OF-L Timo Perez from Memphis
(Triple-A); optioned RHP Anthony Reyes to Memphis. [6/2]

Placed 1B-R Albert Pujols on the 15-day DL (strained
oblique); recalled OF/1B-L Chris Duncan from Memphis. [6/4]

Pujols may be out a month or six weeks, and that on top of the Rocket’s
re-launching really alters the landscape where contention in the Central
Division is concerned. This is a particularly bad break for the Cardinals
because of the timing. We’re weeks away from the decisions to cut bait on
veteran chums that the non-contenders finally come to around the trading
deadline, so Walt Jocketty won’t be easily able to fix this problem with
some quick raiding of the game’s weaker sisters. How can the club fix this
obvious problem? Duncan might provide some sock, but he’s almost as brutal
in left as he is at first, and being Klesko-level bi-awful at the two
positions leaves the Cardinals with an outfield of … who? El Timo?
Tito Landrum, anybody?

Best-case scenarios would have to involve Edmonds getting back out to center
from his current restrictions to first base, with Duncan perhaps muffing
throws instead of flies in his place at first, John
Rodriguez
playing regularly or platooning in one corner, and some
combination of platoon work and spot starts for the dreck. The dreck makes
the need to keep both Edmonds and Rodriguez healthy pretty
desperate–Juan Encarnacion and Larry
Bigbie
both look like the bad ideas they were identified as this
winter, and “Me” So Taguchi resembles nothing
better than a fourth outfielder. At least Taguchi can handle center in
Edmonds’ outfield absence, which happily limits the amount of time that
might go to Encarnacion or Bigbie, but it’s an ugly situation, and one that
Jocketty will be hard-pressed to solve at this point in the season.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
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Placed RHP Santiago Ramirez on the 15-day DL (strained
elbow). [6/2]

Recalled INF-R Brendan Harris from New Orleans (Triple-A).
[6/3]

The infield isn’t quite the disaster that the outfield has become, so you
might think that Harris won’t get much more playing time this time around
than he did during the last. However, Jose Vidro‘s knee
remains a problem, and if he finally broke down or if the club acknowledged
his serious problems on the deuce, Harris might finally get some playing
time. Also, Ryan Zimmerman is struggling with some back
trouble, so the likelihood of a few spot starts for Harris seems pretty
good.

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