Trade rumor involved All-Star Michael Saunders to LA Angels

first_imgSAN DIEGO >> In the American League clubhouse before Tuesday’s All-Star Game, there was one Angels outfielder and one almost-Angels outfielder. Dressing just a few lockers down from Mike Trout was Michael Saunders, one of six Toronto Blue Jays on the AL roster. For a few hours in February, though, Saunders seemed like he was about to become an Angel. On the evening of Feb. 22, reports were widely circulated of a three-way deal involving the Angels, Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds. The deal reportedly would have sent Saunders to the Angels in exchange for a minor leaguer, and outfielder Jay Bruce going to the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays were also sending another minor leaguer to the Reds. “It was obviously emotional,” Saunders said of that day. “It caught me off guard to hear those rumors. Our general manager and manager called me to make sure I was OK. They assured me they are just rumors. They said nothing is going down right now.” According to reports since, the deal was scuttled because the minor leaguer going from Toronto to Cincinnati failed his physical. The Angels were able to, in principle anyway, get Saunders for virtually nothing because injuries had limited him to just 87 games in the previous two years. Obviously, now that he’s healthy, it looks like a huge lucky break for the Blue Jays and bad luck for the Angels. Saunders is hitting .298 with 16 home runs and a .923 OPS. “Just being healthy is the No. 1 reason, and also being in such a great lineup,” said Saunders, whose teammates include All-Stars Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and perennial All-Star Jose Bautista. “Being in such a great lineup, hitting is contagious. We’re just feeding off each other’s energy.” Saunders said he never got to the point of imagining himself playing alongside Trout. “Until players on planes going opposite directions,” he said, “anything can happen.” Kershaw keeps quietClayton Kershaw has a target in mind for when he expects to pitch again for the Dodgers. But he’s keeping it to himself. “I do,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense to share it. If I beat it, ‘Oh, you’re rushing back.’ And if I don’t, then it’s ‘Why not?’” Kershaw will be eligible to come off the disabled list when the Dodgers return from the All-Star break. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has said he expects his ace to “need some time after that.” Kershaw has been in San Diego the past two days participating in activities surrounding the All-Star Game. He joined Tuesday’s “red carpet parade” through downtown and, after arriving at Petco Park, immediately headed to the weight room to go through his rehab work. Dodgers soft tissue specialist Yosuke Nakajima was with him to supervise. Last week, Roberts said the team’s medical staff was “pleasantly surprised” with how quickly the epidural injection Kershaw received two weeks ago had given him relief from the lower back pain caused by a mildly herniated disc. Kershaw said he couldn’t say things have progressed more quickly than he expected because “I didn’t know what to expect.” “I think the epidural did what it was supposed to do,” he offered. Kershaw threw approximately 20 pitches in a bullpen session at Dodger Stadium Sunday, his first time throwing off a mound since going on the disabled list. He said he plans to throw another one Wednesday but isn’t sure yet if he will travel with the Dodgers on their road trip to Arizona, Washington and St. Louis, which begins Friday. That likely depends on how quickly he will progress to the next step in his return; throwing to hitters. Roberts said over the weekend he doesn’t think Kershaw will need to go on a minor-league injury-rehabilitation assignment. Kershaw said he received “positive” answers from Dr. Robert Watkins regarding the likelihood of the back problem becoming chronic. “If something happens you’re always going to have to have some maintenance on it, to be sure,” he said, “but it’s a non-surgical injury.”Dodgers fare differentlyThe two Dodgers on the National League team fared very differently in the first All-Star Game appearance for each.Corey Seager struck out in his only at-bat against New York Yankees right-hander Dellin Betances. He swung at only one of the five pitches he saw, a 2-2 fastball clocked at 100 mph, and missed.The rookie shortstop also committed an error in the field, bobbling a Mark Trumbo ground ball in the seventh inning. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen faced one batter in the eighth inning, Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, and struck him out on three pitches.Trumbo 2.0Although Mark Trumbo certainly enjoyed slugging away in the Home Run Derby on Monday, the Orioles player was an All-Star because he’s been more than just a slugger this year. Trumbo, on his third team since the Angels traded him after the 2013 season, has added a new wrinkle to his game this year. He is hitting .288, 20 points higher than his previous best. It’s also brought his on-base percentage up to what would be a career-high .341. For years, his teams, including the Angels, tried to get Trumbo to be a more disciplined hitter and draw more walks to go with his prodigious power. His compromise: more hits. “I’ve done everything I can to try to improve the walking, but it might be something I’m just simply not as good at as other guys,” he said. “If I start hitting a few more of the pitches in the past that I might have fouled off, the good pitches, I think I can raise the numbers through swinging the bat.” So far he has, and his former manager took note when the Angels were in Baltimore last weekend. “With experience his pitch selection has improved,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He uses the whole field. He has power to every part of the field. He’s become a hitter that he has potential to be. He’s not going to hit .320 and be on base .400, but this guy should be putting up numbers like this for a long time.”AlsoAccording to a spokesperson for Major League Baseball, approximately one-third of those in attendance Tuesday were connected to the baseball industry, including the players and various league partners. The other two-thirds consisted of fans; Padres season ticket holders were given first priority at the seats. … MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addressed reporters before the game. The league and the union began formal discussions toward a new collective bargaining agreement in March; the current CBA expires after the end of this season. … Manfred said he is not satisfied with the current pace of play and players’ adherence to the various countdown clocks imposed last year. … The median game length this season is 3 hours and 5 minutes, 4 minutes longer than last season. The Dodgers (3:06) and Angels (3:07) are both above the median.Staff Writers Jeff Fletcher and J.P. Hoornstra contributed to this report.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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