PLAYING TIME: Jennings dropped in order; Capps back

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Jennings moves down in lineup

Manager Joe Maddon dropped Desmond Jennings (OF, TAM) from the leadoff spot to number seven in the order on Sunday, and indicated that the arrangement might stay that way for a while. Jennings has been in a horrible slump since his return in early June from a left knee sprain—.188/.254/.286 over the last 31 days, though he has collected seven steals.

For the year, Jennings has been less patient at the plate (8% bb% and and OBA shy of .300), though Spd metrics are still fine (151 Spd, 27% SBO). While his move down in the order is unlikely to affect his speed/SB rates that much, it will ding his AB and run totals a bit. Maddon cited the need to work on his plate patience and indicated that he would consider reinstating Jennings into the leadoff role at some point.

Elliot Johnson (SS, TAM), who has received most of the AB at SS since mid-May led off on Sunday, and will likely get the call during Jennings' hiatus. The 28-year-old Johnson has been a quad-A type player until 2012, when he's surprised with a .275/.336/.386 slash in 207 AB, with 4 HR and 15 SB. Though he's shown legit speed skills —132 Spd and 30% SBO—his questionable pedigree, 35% h% and .243 xBA are reminders to proceed with caution.

Matt Capps returns; Perkins to setup

The Twins are set to activate Matt Capps (RHP, MIN) from the DL for this weekend's series with OAK. Capps has been out of action since June 25 with shoulder inflammation; he had been dealing with discomfort since mid-June. Manager Ron Gardenhire has indicated that Capps will regain the closer's role.

Capps has 14 saves in 27 appearances, and though he has a 3.42 ERA and 81 BPV, his Dom sits under 6.0 for the second straight season (currently 5.5). Until he regains the ability to strike batters out, his long-term outlook will be cloudy.

For the moment, Glen Perkins (LHP, MIN) heads back to setup duty. Perkins filled in admirably for Capps, collecting all four of his saves over the past month. And his BPI are a virtual repeat of his 2011 breakout: 3.1 Ctl, 10.5 Dom, 3.51 xERA and 120 BPV. If Capps is unable to regains consistency, Perkins has the goods—and now a bit of closing experience—that would serve him well as a full-time stopper, even as a lefthander.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Bonifacio activated from DL

Emilio Bonifacio (OF, MIA) will be activated on Friday after missing almost two months with a torn thumb ligament that required surgery. Bonifacio had run wild under manager Ozzie Guillen, and had accumulated 20 SB in just 149 AB—with a career-high 39% SBO. He has been more patient at the plate than at any point in his career (11% bb%) and it has lifted his OBA to just shy of .350. Bonifacio provides no pop, however (all but four of his 40 hits have been singles), so he needs to run to have value.

Bonifacio should slot back into full-time CF play, with the hot Justin Ruggiano (OF, MIA) sliding to an outfield corner while Giancarlo Stanton (OF, MIA) recovers from knee surgery. Ruggiano was profiled earlier this month and though it's a great story, his 46% and 25% hr/f recall the ghost of Sam Fuld. Ride him while he's hot, but don't be deceived into thinking there's a long-term upside here.

NL short take

Tyler Thornburg (RHP, MIL) was recalled from Triple-A and will join the team on Friday and pitch out of the bullpen. Thornburg was up for one start in June and allowed five runs (including four HR) in 5.1 IP against Toronto. Thornburg had been sailing at Double-A before the promotion (3.0 Cmd, 8.5 Dom) and at 23, has a likely future in the Brewers' rotation, so he could be worth a reserve slot. He was the Brewers' #4 prospect in BaseballHQ.com's Organizational Rankings coming into 2012 ...

Update from July 11: Dillon Gee's (RHP, NYM) blood clot will require surgery and he will most likely miss the rest of the season. One can bet that Miguel Batista (RHP, NYM), scheduled for Gee's next turn, won't last quite that long in the rotation, and even manager Terry Collins did not shut the door on the possibility of top pitching prospect Matt Harvey (RHP, NYM) getting the call from Triple-A at some point ...


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