MLB notes: Dodgers' phenom Puig included in Final Vote ballot

Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates in the dugout after scoring against the...

Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates in the dugout after scoring against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 2, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images/AFP)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:46 PM ET

Los Angeles Dodgers rookie phenom Yasiel Puig, who has been in the big leagues for barely more than a month, is among five National League players eligible for the all-star game's last-chance fan voting process.

Puig, who was called up June 3, is joined by teammate Adrian Gonzalez (first base), Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence on the Final Vote ballot. The five AL candidates are all pitchers -- Steve Delabar of the Blue Jays, David Robertson of the New York Yankees, Koji Uehara of the Boston Red Sox, Tanner Scheppers of the Texas Rangers and Joaquin Benoit of the Detroit Tigers.

Two players from each league will be added to the all-star game.

In his first 31 games with the Dodgers, Puig hit .407 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. He has helped the Dodgers get back in the pennant race.

Last week, Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon weighed in on Puig's potential inclusion to the all-star game, saying it would be an "injustice" to veteran players and calling it a "joke."

Now an all-star berth for Puig will be left in the hands of voting fans.

NO DERBY FOR CRUZ

Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz says he'll turn down a spot in the Home Run Derby if he's asked by American League captain Robinson Cano.

Cruz, the Derby runner-up in 2009 when the Rangers weren't in contention for a playoff spot, has 22 home runs this season, good for fifth in the AL. But he's more focused on helping the Rangers get back to the playoffs.

"It's important that we start the second half strong," Cruz said. "I just got to stay back and help. What we need right now is more important than the Derby. I would love to go, but I think this time and last time is way different."

Rangers manager Ron Washington said he's against players participating in the Derby because it affects their swing. Cruz seems to agree.

"I don't think my swing is that good to mess it up more than it already is," he said.

MOLINA SHOULD BE FINE

An MRI on St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina's knee showed no structural damage, according to USA Today.

The test showed mild inflammation in the knee, which should go away over time and with random days of rest.

"Everything came back negative and that's a relief," Molina said Sunday. "A couple days and I'll be ready to go."

Molina, the best defensive catcher in baseball, is hitting .346 with six home runs and 45 RBIs in 81 games this season. He was the leading vote-getter in the National League for the all-star game and is considered a candidate to win the NL MVP award.

Molina is hopeful he can return to the lineup Tuesday. The Cardinals have Monday off.

SORIA FINALLY EARNING $$

Joakim Soria suited up for his first game as a Texas Ranger Sunday after being activated off the disabled list earlier in the day.

Soria signed with the Rangers as a free agent in December 2012, agreeing to a two-year, $8 million deal, but hasn't pitched for the Rangers. He signed while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow -- the second reconstruction of his career -- and missed the first three months of the 2013 season.

The 29-year-old reliever hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2011 but had an outstanding five-year stretch with the Kansas City Royals before that, recording 160 saves.

The Rangers made room for Soria by putting starting pitcher Nick Tepesch on the 15-day Dl with an elbow injury. First baseman Lance Berkman also went on the Dl with a hip injury.

BRIEFLY

The San Diego Padres put catcher Yasmani Grandal on the 60-day disabled list after he hurt his right knee Saturday. Grandal, who missed the first 50 games of the season due to a PED suspension, has MCL and ACL damage in the knee but the Padres don't yet know the full extent of the injury ... The New York Yankees claimed first baseman Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles, according to the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles designated Ishikawa for assignment on June 29 ... The Yankees optioned pitcher Michael Pineda to triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after he completed his 30-day rehab assignment. Pineda hasn't pitched for the Yankees since being acquired in a trade with the Seattle Mariners in 2011 ... Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Ricky Nolasco, acquired from the Miami Marlins late Saturday, will make his first start for his new team Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers sent three minor-leaguers to the Marlins for Nolasco, who bumped Chris Capuano from the roation to the bullpen.

 


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