Spreading cheer: On last Monday’s off-day in New York, Yasiel Puig rented a helicopter for a 45-minute ride to the Catskill Mountains to visit Camp Simcha, the only kosher overnight summer camp for children with cancer and other diseases, many of which are terminal. The Cleveland Indians outfielder danced and sang with kids and crowd-surfed through the room. He played catch and tossed batting practice, visited kids in the infirmary and signed dozens of autographs. “Today,” Puig tweeted, “was one of the best days of my life.”
Fantasy league: Nathan Patterson, signed by the Oakland Athletics after his brother posted a video on Twitter of him being clocked at 96 mph during a speed-pitch challenge at Coors Field in July, struck out the side in his minor league debut in an Arizona rookie league game Aug. 15. Patterson’s next appearance didn’t go so well. The 23-year-old right-hander gave up three earned runs and two hits, including a homer, in two innings against a Brewers rookie league team Tuesday.
Impact bat: No trade-deadline acquisition has made a bigger splash than Cubs outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, who hit .378 with a 1.170 OPS, eight homers, seven doubles and 12 RBIs in his first 20 games after being acquired from the Tigers for two pitching prospects. Castellanos became the first player in Cubs history to hit a first-inning homer in three consecutive games in Wednesday night’s 12-11 win over the Giants. He also beat out an eighth-inning infield single to set up Kris Bryant’s winning hit. “Every time [up],” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo told the Chicago Tribune, “he’s doing damage.”
Thin-skinned: Shame on the Houston Astros for caving in to pitcher Justin Verlander’s demand that a Detroit Free-Press reporter be barred from the clubhouse until after the pitcher had completed his media session following Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Tigers. Such a demand violates Major League Baseball rules requiring players to be available to the media for interviews before and after games. Whatever beef Verlander has with the journalist — he complained of the reporter’s “unethical behavior in the past” on Twitter — it should not prevent the writer from doing his job.
Fall guy: The dim playoff hopes of the defending World Series-champion Boston Red Sox may have been doused for good Tuesday when starter Chris Sale went down with what appears to be a season-ending elbow injury. The situation in Boston, which had blown 23 of 47 save opportunities entering Friday, has deteriorated to a point where Dave Dombrowski, the president of baseball operations and architect of a team that won three consecutive division titles and a franchise-record 119 games in 2018, might be on the hot seat.
Full house: Another lost season for the perennially rebuilding Seattle Mariners will likely net two dubious major league records. When left-hander Taylor Guilbeau made his big league debut Aug. 17, he became the 40th pitcher used by the team this season, tying a record shared by the 2017 Mariners and the 2014 Texas Rangers. Seattle has also used 63 position players, including two — Tom Murphy and Dylan Moore — who pitched. They’re expected to exceed 40 pitchers used and the Rangers’ record of 64 players used in 2014 when rosters expand in September.