Jon Lester's road back from cancer finally ends Monday night in Cleveland.
07/23/2007 9:51 AM ET
Lester set to return to mound vs. Tribe
The Boston Red Sox recalled Lester from Triple-A Pawtucket and will insert him into the starting rotation against the Indians.
Manager Terry Francona said Lester, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma last year, is ready to return to the Majors. He admits, though, that it will be a special moment for everyone associated with Lester.
"We want to win games so bad," Francona told the Boston Globe. "But I can't say there won't be some emotion involved when he gets to take the mound. I think his folks are going to be there, which I'm sure for them will be extra special.
"I think talking to Jon, he just wants to win the game. I think he's got that attitude, he's already been through this enough and answered the questions, I'm sure he'll have to answer them again, but he just wants to win baseball games. He's pretty refreshing, pretty remarkable for a kid that age."
Lester was 4-5 with a 3.89 ERA in 14 starts for Pawtucket. The club felt it was the right time to add him to the starting rotation.
"We've been staying up on this kid, I think it's pretty evident, all year," Francona said. "Where we thought he was, what needed to happen, what's best for him, what's best for us. I think we got to a point where we thought this might be in his best interest and ours.
"It'll be interesting to see how he does. We're excited. We've had a lot of conversations with a lot of people, trying to do the right thing."
Duncan makes a splash for Yanks: Seeking to add a little more power, the New York Yankees recalled Shelley Duncan from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and intend to play him at first base, both corner outfield positions and at designated hitter.
"He's been pretty consistent down there," manager Joe Torre told Newsday. "Hopefully, he can just help this ballclub offensively."
Duncan is off to a good start. He went 1-for-4 in his Major League debut Friday night. His hit was a line drive single in the eighth that drove in a run. On Saturday, Duncan hit his first career home run and drove in two runs while going 1-for-4. Duncan saved his best for Sunday, however. The right-hander socked two home runs and drove in four runs while going 2-for-4 at the plate. In three games, he has three home runs and seven RBIs.
Duncan, 27, may be a rookie, but he knows what life in the Majors is like. His father, Dave, is the pitching coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and his brother, Chris, plays outfield for the Cardinals.
"He's a little more pumped up," Shelley Duncan said of his dad. "He's trying to give me a heads-up on things. Chris is just real excited."
Shelley Duncan was hitting .295 with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs in 91 games for Scranton.
Chipper caught up on Bonds spotlight: The Braves travel to San Francisco for a four-game series against the Giants and all of the talk centers around Barry Bonds and the home run chase. Even Chipper Jones, a non-pitcher and a star in his own right, is caught up in the drama.
"He's still got to hit three, you know?" Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That's a lot of homers to hit in one series. He can certainly do it."
If the past is any guide, he certainly can. In a three-game set against the Braves in 2001, Bonds hit six homers in just 10 at-bats. He also doubled in that series. Perhaps that's why Jones is asking all of the pitchers on the Braves who is going to serve up home run number 756.
"I've been grilling the pitchers to see which one is going to live in infamy," Jones said. "Who's going to be the Al Downing of this team?"
Downing was the Dodgers pitcher who gave up home run number 715 to Henry Aaron in 1974, the home run which eclipsed Babe Ruth's mark of 714.
"If he's one away and I'm pitching, I'm laying one in there," Jones said.
"Heck yeah," Jones said. "I'll be in every clip forever."
Uggla burns the Reds: Dan Uggla is going to be sorry to see the Cincinnati Reds leave town.
Uggla had gone 2-for-19 and was given a day off on Wednesday before the opening of a four-game set against the Reds. He returned to the lineup for those four games and promptly went 11-for-20 with two home runs in four days against the Reds.
"Sometimes you just keep digging yourself deeper in a hole," Uggla told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I think [the day off] helped me out. ... I still had the same numbers I had before my day off when I came back, and my first two at-bats I lined out and struck out. Believe me, I was starting to panic a little bit. Then I started to catch a couple of breaks."
Sunday, Uggla went 4-for-5 with the go-ahead two-run homer that propelled the Marlins to a 9-3 win. The Marlins took the series, 3-1, and ended their homestand with six wins in 10 games. Florida upped its home record to 23-29 and captured its first homestand win of the season.
"It's just trying to battle. Having more focus and taking more pride in playing at home and trying to improve our record here," Uggla said.
Anderson gets Angels back on power track: Both the Angels and Garret Anderson had gone a while without a home run. Anderson ended both streaks with a blast in the second inning Sunday that helped lift the Halos to a 7-2 win over the Twins. It was the first home run by a member of the Angels in 14 games and the first for Anderson since June 9.
"To be honest with you, it doesn't mean anything," Anderson told the Los Angeles Times. "Nobody's going to remember it, nobody's going to care. It doesn't matter."
While Anderson downplayed the significance of the hit, it was part of a larger tear that he's been on recently. He now has a six-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 11 of the past 12 games.
"I'm not quite where I want to be, but I'm starting to put together some good at-bats and give myself a chance to put the ball in play with good, solid swings," Anderson said. "I've been able to recognize pitches a little bit better. It's starting to get there."
Teammates called for the home run ball after a fan in the upper deck dropped it and the ball made it back onto the field. Anderson cracked a grin at his teammates' playfulness, as they were joking about sending the ball to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"I'll tell you what, it almost went there by itself," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That ball was launched."
Spurling returns, his mind at ease: Milwaukee reliever Chris Spurling was recently activated from the bereavement list. He had to leave the team and fly home to Cooper City, Fla., after his 1-year-old son, Logan, had a swimming pool accident that put his life in jeopardy.
Spurling is happy to be back with his team, but knowing everything is now fine with his son is all that really matters to him right now.
"It was the worst plane ride of my life," Spurling told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "When I got to the hospital, he was hooked up to a breathing machine. But he's OK now. He's out of the hospital and all the tests were good. He has no brain damage.
"The main thing is that he's pretty much back to 100 percent."
Crawford won't miss time with injury: Tampa Bay left fielder Carl Crawford had to leave the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against the Yankees with a "mild" sprain of his left ankle. Crawford, however, expects to be back in the lineup Tuesday.
"I don't think it's bad or nothing," Crawford told the St. Petersburg Times. "It's just day to day right now. ... I don't think I'm going to be on the DL or nothing like that, that's for sure."
Precautionary X-rays of the ankle were negative.
The injury occurred when Crawford jammed his foot on the side of first base as he was attempting to reach on an infield single. He was able to play for two more innings after having his ankle taped, but he eventually left due to pain.
"It was throbbing and aching both, just uncomfortable," Crawford said. "It didn't swell up. It's just sore."
Drew keeps positive outlook through work ethic: Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew isn't having the type of season he expected at the plate, but his teammates and manager Bob Melvin say he deserves credit for continuing to work hard every day.
"For a guy that isn't looking at the numbers he would expect, it doesn't affect him on a day-to-day basis," Melvin told the Arizona Republic.
Second baseman Orlando Hudson has been impressed with Drew's demeanor.
"He's a positive young player who knows things are going to turn around. That's one of the great aspects about him," Hudson said. "He's got five tools, but that's one of his biggest tools."
Drew, who hit a game-winning home run Saturday against the Cubs, said it has been easy to push aside his struggles.
"It (hasn't) really (been) difficult, to be honest," he said. "You just trust yourself. I've had ups and downs this year, but that's baseball. Things ain't going to go your way all the time. As a player and a teammate, you come out and play hard every day for the team. Hopefully things will start rolling along for me."
Drew, whose batting average has hovered around .250, proved he could hit last year. In 209 at-bats, he hit .316 with 25 extra-base hits.
"There's no doubt I can hit at this level," he said. "Last year, I came in and had 210 at-bats. If you had 100 at-bats, it's different. When you start getting 200, 300 at-bats, you know something's working for you. I trust myself and it's always going to be there."
-- Red Line Editorial