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Sunday Insider: Central Intelligence

  • June 21, 2014 - 5:43 PM

White Sox reliever Nate Jones feared his season was over when he underwent surgery to alleviate hip pain in May. But his recovery has been such a success that the righthander is traveling with the team as he prepares to ramp up his throwing program in anticipation of an August return.

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A combination of a rainout and upcoming off days means that Cleveland doesn’t need a fifth starter again until July 1. So the Indians sent fifth starter Zach McAllister, sporting an unsightly 5.89 ERA in 10 starts, to Class AAA, and will play with a nine-man bullpen for at least two weeks.

“We have a chance to ease the burden on the bullpen,” manager Terry Francona said. “There’s not many times when you can have a nine-man bullpen and have it work. We have that opportunity.”

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Kansas City lefthander Bruce Chen, out since late April because of a bulging disc, struck out 11 hitters Wednesday in a rehab start for Class AAA Omaha and rejoined the Royals this weekend. Chen, 37, planned to throw on the side and let manager Ned Yost determine how he will come back. It might be a bullpen role for a while, Yost suggested.

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No drastic changes were planned, but ace Justin Verlander met with Detroit manager Brad Ausmus and pitching coach Jeff Jones to discuss possible remedies to his notable drop in velocity and his unseemly 4.98 ERA going into his Saturday start against the Indians.

Verlander, 31, was striking out only 6.4 batters per nine innings, well down from his 9.2 average over the previous five years. “It has to do with he’s not locating the ball,” Ausmus said. “But my feeling is, [his velocity] will creep back up.”

© 2014 Star Tribune