LEADING OFF: Time for September call-ups, but not too many

Aug 31, 2021, 4:51 AM | Updated: 4:59 pm

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Wednesday:

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CALL ‘EM UP

Major League Baseball teams can now expand their rosters, but there’s something different about September call-ups this season — clubs can add just two players.

Instead of swelling clubhouses and dugouts to 40 players, teams can only expand from 26 to 28.

“In previous years that number probably would’ve been a little bit higher in terms of guys we’d want to bring up in order to rest guys or even just provide some big league experience down the stretch for some young guys. So we’re going to have some decisions to make,” said Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, whose team has a big lead in the AL Central.

Even before COVID-19 altered and shortened the 2020 season to only 60 games, MLB had decided to reduce the September call-ups while adding a 26th player to the roster fulltime last year.

“I don’t think two is enough, and I think 15 is too much because some teams will call up all 15 and some teams will call up four or five. You’re either outmanned, or you’ll outman them,” said Dusty Baker, manager of the AL West-leading Houston Astros. “We’ve gone from one drastic measure to another one.”

While veteran slugger Khris Davis had a recent resurgence with nine home runs in a stretch of 37 at-bats for Oakland’s Triple-A team, he’s no sure bet for a promotion. He re-signed with the Athletics organization Aug. 4, two months after he was released by Texas.

The playoff-contending A’s might not have room in the big leagues for the 33-year-old Davis, whose AL-leading 48 homers in 2018 made up the last of his three consecutive 40-homer seasons.

“I have noticed Khris Davis is doing pretty well here. It’s great, the guys are excited,” A’s Oakland manager Bob Melvin said, unsure it meant much when it came to Davis’ chances to join them.

HAPPY RETURNS

Red Sox ace Chris Sale (3-0, 2.35 ERA) makes his fourth start since coming back from Tommy John surgery in a game against the AL East-leading Rays. In his last outing, Sale joined Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers on record with three immaculate innings when he struck out the side on nine pitches in the third inning against Minnesota.

Boston has outscored its opponents 34-4 in Sale’s first three starts. Right-hander Drew Rasmussen (1-0, 3.09) is slated to pitch for Tampa Bay.

FAMILIAR FACE

It could be a family reunion in Cincinnati after the Reds acquired minor league outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. from Boston for cash.

DeShields’ father is the first base coach for the Reds.

The 29-year-old DeShields was with Boston’s Triple-A team in Worcester and assigned to the Reds’ top minor league team in Louisville. He provides outfield depth for the Reds, who started Tuesday in the second NL wild-card spot.

DeShields has six years of big league experience. He was with Cleveland last year after spending the previous five seasons with Texas. He has a .246 batting average, a .326 on-base percentage and 109 stolen bases in 576 games.

AVAILABLE

The Blue Jays have cut struggling lefty reliever Brad Hand. The 31-year-old lefty went 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in 11 games with Toronto after being acquired from Washington on July 29 for rookie catcher Riley Adams.

Hand went 5-5 with a 3.79 ERA and 21 saves in 41 appearances for Washington before the trade. He’s 43-31 with 126 saves and a 3.70 ERA over 11 big league seasons.

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LEADING OFF: Time for September call-ups, but not too many