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Baseball rumors

Pirates interested in Cubs' LaHair, Padres' Headley

Stephen Strasburg joins elite company, and Vladimer Guerrero's loss is David Cooper's gain.

June 16, 2012|By Phil Rogers
  • Bryan LaHair of the Chicago Cubs hits a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Bryan LaHair of the Chicago Cubs hits a solo home run against the St. Louis… (Dilip Vishwanat / Getty…)

Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals got his 200th strikeout in his 29th game, joining Hideo Nomo (23 games), Kerry Wood (23), Dwight Gooden (25), Mark Prior (27) and Herb Score (29) as the only big leaguers to strike out 200 in fewer than 30 games.

Vladimir Guerrero was hitting the ball well in triple A when the Toronto Blue Jays decided they didn't need him. That's a vote of support for rookie first baseman David Cooper, who would have been shipped back to triple A had Guerrero arrived as the everyday designated hitter, moving Edwin Encarnacion to first base.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in the Chicago Cubs' Bryan LaHair and the San Diego Padres' Chase Headley as they seek to get more runners on base. Scouts say they could pull off one of the first trades, as they're anxious to build on the momentum of a 12-3 run that briefly gave them a share of the lead in the National League Central.

Fans seem to like 4-3 games just fine. Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci points out that attendance is up 7% this year, with 20 of the 30 clubs reporting an increase in ticket sales, and that per-game attendance dropped in three of the next five years after the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run race in 1998.

No knuckleball pitcher has started an All-Star game. The New York Mets' R.A. Dickey is a strong candidate to become the first.

Reports of Jim Thome's demise, once again, were exaggerated. He has hit so well in a stretch of 10 games at designated hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies (11 for 27, three home runs and 13 runs batted in through Friday) that Charlie Manuel may take another look at using him at first base. As tough as it would be to fit him and Adam Dunn onto the same roster, don't be surprised if the Chicago White Sox at least explore adding Thome at the trade deadline.

Joe Torre will replace Davey Johnson as manager of Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. The key question for the U.S. in filling out the roster for next spring's event is whether to stick with only three or four starting pitchers, as it had on the unsuccessful teams in 2009 and 2006, or take the top six or eight starters and use them in three- or four-inning stretches. That's a better way to do it.

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