– The Blue Jays have signed 1B Edwin Encarnacion to a 3-year/$27M contract extension with a $10M club option for 2016. Encarnacion, 29, has a strong .295/.382/.565 batting line, 23 home runs and 58 RBI through 356 plate appearances this season.
– The Nationals are reportedly hoping to activate OF Jayson Werth (fractured wrist) around the beginning of August. Werth has been on the DL since May 7 and still hasn’t been cleared to swing a bat. He should be cleared begin light baseball-related activities soon.
– White Sox’ pitching coach Don Cooper said Thursday that LHP John Danks (shoulder) is not close to returning. ”John is not feeling so hot. His shoulder is not feeling so good, we’ve made minimal progress with it and from my standpoint — I don’t mean this fully, I love John — he’s not on my radar right now. We would love to have John back, but that doesn’t look like that’s happening in the next two-to-three weeks at least.” Danks has been on the DL since May 20. He’ll aim to return by the middle of August.
– Baseball America’s Jim Callis reports that the Marlins will not sign 1st-round pick LHP Andrew Heaney. Heaney was selected ninth overall in last month’s Amateur Draft. Miami didn’t offer anything close to the $2.8M recommended bonus for that slot, according to Callis.
– According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals “might be willing to include top prospect RHP Shelby Miller in trade talks” this summer. Miller was previously thought to be untouchable, but the 21-year-old has struggled in Triple-A Memphis. And with the Cardinals needing to fill holes in their big league lineup, he may become trade bait.
– Red Sox’ LHP Jon Lester said on Twitter Wednesday that he still has “love” for the city of Boston. MLB Network’s Peter Gammons suggested earlier this week that Lester was unhappy being on the team. “Guys, I love Boston, very happy here. Nothing better than playing for the @RedSox, hope to be here for my entire career.” The 28-year-old is under team control through the 2014 season.
– Blazers’ RFA G Nicolas Batum has signed a 4-year/$46.5M offer sheet from the Timberwolves. The Blazers now have 72 hours to match the offer, and are expected to do so.
– The Timberwolves will reportedly waive F Darko Milicic using the amnesty clause. Darko started off well in Minny, but eventually fell off. The Wolves were 45-129 with him on the roster. Darko has 2-years/$10M left on his contract.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, John Laurinaitis’ power behind the scenes continues to dwindle, with several other people now running the talent development division under Triple H. Laurinaitis had been involved in talent development and booking live events, but now he’s limited to a performer and possibly handling company payroll. Despite being fired weeks ago, Laurinaitis continues to work dark matches, teaming with the Big Show against John Cena in handicap matches. It’s expected Laurinaitis will be brought back to television in some capacity in the coming months.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, Alberto Del Rio is expected to receive a big push this year for a number of reasons. Aside from the lack of roster depth on SmackDown, Del Rio has said publicly on several occasions that he does not plan to wrestle for many more years. Especially since WWE’s other Mexican stars have their own baggage (Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara), Del Rio is perceived as having leverage behind the scenes and will be taken care of accordingly.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE is finalizing plans for the upcoming 1,000th episode of RAW. Big names already confirmed include The Rock, Brock Lesnar, Mick Foley, Bret Hart and a DX reunion (Shawn Michaels and Triple H). There will likely also be appearances from Vince and Stephanie McMahon, with Shane McMahon being a long-shot and Linda McMahon considered unlikely, due to her ongoing Senate campaign and their efforts to distance her from the WWE product. There will also be a slew of “2nd tier” legends appearing (the usual suspects). As for the Undertaker, it will depend on whether WWE plans for him to work SummerSlam. The show is so stacked already that it would not make sense to bring him in unless they will be building towards an upcoming match. With the audience of RAW’s 1,000th episode expected to be one of the largest of the year, WWE will capitalize on this by making Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H official for SummerSlam.
– WWEDVDNews.com reports WWE will release a Brock Lesnar video title in either late October or early November. The title is currently in production and will be released on both DVD and Blu-ray formats. WWE had contemplated producing a Lesnar video title since February of last year. It will be their second Lesnar video production, following the 2003 DVD release Brock Lesnar – Here Comes the Pain.
– Updating a previous item, according to the Wrestling Observer, Fit Finlay is back with WWE and will resume his role as a producer. Finlay met with WWE during WrestleMania weekend and did state in an interview that he was meeting with WWE to discuss a new deal. Since WrestleMania, Finlay has been working with former WWE wrestler Tajiri and helped launch his new Wrestling New Classics promotion in Japan. Now that Tajiri’s new promotion is off the ground, Finlay was free to return to WWE.
– Amidst speculation concerning Nikki Bella’s noticeably enlarged chest in a series of recently published Twitter photos, the former WWE Diva jokingly admitted to undergoing breast augmentation surgery. She tweeted Wednesday,
“Love how “Nikki’s” my boobs are trending worldwide! Ha what can I say… I wanted my own set of ?#TwinMagic? haha Besos!”
Nikki and her sister Brie walked the red carpet at Wednesday’s ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, there continues to be buzz behind the scenes in WWE about the signing of Sara Del Rey and how she has a different look than what WWE typically goes for in their Divas. She works a more serious in-ring style than most of the WWE roster (most similar to Beth Phoenix) and could be used as an opponent of Kharma. Aside from Del Rey having a different look than the barbie dolls WWE gravitates towards, she is also older than the usual Diva signing at 31 years old.
– Monday’s WWE RAW Supershow drew a 3.17 rating with 4.42 million viewers, virtually even with the previous week. Considering the fact that RAW was up against the MLB Home Run Derby (4.79 rating and 6.88 million viewers), the rating is considered a strong showing for WWE and a good sign of momentum headed into Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Digging deeper into the numbers, A.J. Lee proved to be a big ratings draw for WWE, with the overrun segment featuring her decision of “who she was going to marry” gained 711,000 viewers. Considering the fact that the segment featured CM Punk, Daniel Bryan (typically not big ratings draws) and no John Cena, this is great news for WWE. Even more noteworthy is that the teenage male demographic, which has been hurting badly this year, saw a major spike during the overrun. Because the Punk/Bryan/AJ storyline has not moved the numbers in recent weeks, it can be assumed that the hotshot marriage angle was responsible for the uptick. Here are some of the larger quarter hour viewership changes:
Christian & Tyson Kidd vs. Tensai & Dolph Ziggler and Lawler vs. Cole angle lost 416,000 viewers from the previous quarter hour (AJ/Punk/Bryan opening segment & Sheamus vs. Swagger).
Brodus Clay vs. Drew McIntyre and Stephanie McMahon talking about her and HHH renewing their vows on RAW several years ago gained 102,000 viewers.
Heath Slater vs. Sin Cara and the Bob Backlund angle lost 21,000 viewers.
Lawler vs. Cole and WWE revealing that Hornswoggle was the mystery RAW GM also lost 21,000 viewers.
– In the final part of Billy Gunn’s shoot interview, as part of his weekly “Gunn Show” series, Billy opens up like never before to talk about his troubled past, recovering from it, and the fear (by him and his family) of a relapse if he ever got the chance to go back to the WWE. Billy Gunn also talks about where he ranks the New Age Outlaws in the all-time list of best tag teams. Check out part one and part two on VegasFuelTV (youtube.com/vegasfueltv) and be sure you don’t miss part three! Brought to you by Vegas Fuel energy drink, available nationwide at Rite Aid, “The Gunn Show” airs every Wednesday. Follow “The Gunn Show” on Twitter @GunnShowTV.
Billy Gunn on the “old Billy Gunn”: “The old me…nobody liked, nobody wanted to be around. My wife didn’t want to take me anywhere, my wife didn’t want to be seen with me, my wife LEFT me. My kids didn’t want to be seen with me, they didn’t want to do anything with me, they didn’t want to see me…because I was in a bad place. I’ve got all that back. He said it would come back, I got it back because I stay on track. And I know if I go back to that place, I lose everything. This time, I lose it all. And not only do I lose it all, I probably end up dead.”
On going back to the WWE: “If they ask me to go back, I’d love to go back. I’d love to go back in a training aspect, or helping guys, or getting in the ring and showing them how to do it inside, not just tell you.”
On whether or not the New Age Outlaws are the greatest tag team of all time: “No, I wouldn’t put us as the greatest of all time, I wouldn’t do that. I’d put us right where we’re supposed to be in the top five. I think top five. I mean, that’s pretty much without tooting my own horn. And a lot of credit goes to Brian, a lot of that was him too. It wasn’t just me. He would say that too, just for the record. Brian would say we are top five.We wouldn’t be the best, but we ARE top five.”
– According to the Wrestling Observer, there is talk of Sting and Hulk Hogan teaming up against the new Aces & Eights mystery group that attacked Sting and have been taunting Hogan on Twitter. Even though Hogan is extremely limited in what he can do in the ring, Sting could work most of the match and Hogan could get in a few of his signature spots in what would be a “special attraction” match.
– As previously reported, Ric Flair’s first wrestling appearance since leaving TNA will be the Insane Clown Posse’s Gathering of the Juggalos show on August 12th from Cave-in-Rock, IL. Flair will hosting the event on the main stage but will not be wrestling at the event. Almost everyone expects Ric Flair to be back in WWE when the TNA vs. WWE lawsuit dies down and WWE can find a role for him.
– Tonight on Spike TV, TNA’s weekly programming expands to 3 hours with the addition of the 1-hour “Impact Rewind” pre-show that will air at 7pm (ET), prior to Impact. According to the Wrestling Observer, “Impact Rewind” originally started off as a post-game show and was the creation of Eric Bischoff and Jason Harvey. Despite critical acclaim, the show was cancelled after a few months due to low ratings. Now the show returns as a lead-in show for Impact with the hope that fans will get conditioned to tuning in earlier and the beginning of Impact at 8pm (ET) will have a solid wrestling lead-in. Impact moving to 8pm in May was done to help offset the eventual competition from the NFL, which returns in the coming weeks.
One challenge facing Rewind is that it won’t have the benefit of airing right after Impact and the occasional Impact main event that ran long and into the Rewind timeslot, helping boost Rewind ratings. The show that used to air before Impact, World’s Worst Tenants, drew approximately 650,000 viewers. Since networks typically have a harder time selling advertising during wrestling shows, the feeling is that TNA will have to produce higher ratings than “Worst Tenants.” Coincidentally, TNA expanding it’s weekly programming to 3-hours comes just 11 days before WWE RAW does the same thing on July 23rd.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, there is some confusion surrounding WWE letting Wes Brisco leave and work for TNA. Brisco, 29, is the son of WWE Hall of Famer Gerald Brisco and had been getting rave reviews at WWE developmental before getting let go. He’s on the smaller side and a great athlete, which would have made him a good fit for WWE’s planned cruiserweights show. For whatever reason, WWE let him go and now he’s being considered for a regular spot on TNA’s roster.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, there has been talk of TNA bringing in Chris Masters as one of the masked men who attacked Sting, but he’s booked to wrestle in Russia the night before Bound for Glory. This would make wrestling in Phoenix the following night difficult, but not impossible.