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Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez felt soreness in his left forearm during the last two pitches of his appearance today against the Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Elizabeth Bloom reported.  The southpaw didn’t speak to the media himself after the game, though Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk confirmed that Vazquez was receiving treatment.  It’s too early to gauge the seriousness of the problem, though obviously any sort of forearm issue is of great concern, particularly for a pitcher who throws as hard as Vazquez.  His fastball has dropped in velocity this season (96.8 mph as opposed to 98.5 mph in 2017), though this year’s total is closer to his career average, so it could be that 2017 proves to be something of an outlier, or perhaps it’s still too early in the 2018 campaign to make conclusions.  Vazquez has a 3.54 ERA and 9.74 K/9 through 20 1/3 frames for the Bucs this year, with an increased walk rate and a decreased swinging-strike and grounder rate from his outstanding 2017 season.  On the flip side, Vazquez has also yet to allow a home run this year, and he has had some bad luck the form of a .333 BABIP and only a 65.5% strand rate.

Vazquez’s breakout 2017 earned him a four-year, $22MM extension from the Pirates in the offseason, locking him up as a building block on the Pittsburgh roster.  Losing Vazquez for any amount of time would be a significant blow to a Pirates team that has surpassed expectations by staying competitive in the NL Central and in the wild card race.  Michael Feliz and Edgar Santana are likely the top candidates to take over as closer if Vazquez did have to hit the DL; it’s possible that the Bucs could target ninth-inning help at the deadline if they stayed in the race, though payroll would certainly play an issue in any acquisition.

Here’s some more on some injury situations around baseball…

  • Yu Darvish will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine reports (Twitter link), and the Cubs righty has said that the soreness in his right triceps is in a different place than it was in 2015, when Darvish underwent Tommy John surgery.  This could be a further sign that Darvish’s current injury isn’t very serious, so he could be back in Chicago’s rotation sooner rather than later.
  • Franchy Cordero will likely be placed on the 10-day DL tomorrow due to forearm soreness, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell tweets.  The Padres believe the issue has recently been impacting Cordero’s swing, which could explain his .515 OPS over his last 47 plate appearances.  This recent slide cooled off what had been a strong start for Cordero on the season, and the outfielder still owns an overall .237/307/.439 slash line and seven homers over 154 PA.
  • Hunter Renfroe is expected to be activated from the disabled list tomorrow to take Cordero’s spot on the Padres roster, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes.  Renfroe hasn’t played since April 17 due to elbow inflammation, and he has nine Triple-A rehab games under his belt as he prepared for his return to the majors.  Acee notes that the rehab assignment may have essentially doubled as an opportunity for Renfroe to get his bat on track, as the former top prospect got off to a slow start this season and has yet to really break out in the big leagues, though Renfroe has crushed left-handed pitching.
  • A DL stint could be in the offing for Wilmer Flores, as the Mets infielder left today’s game in the fourth inning due to back soreness.  MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports that Flores has flown back to New York for examination, and the Mets will have Phillip Evans on hand in Atlanta tomorrow if a roster move needs to be made.  Flores is hitting .248/.320/.398 through 128 PA this season and has continued to be a versatile infield depth piece for the Mets, most recently seeing a lot of third base time filling in for the injured Todd Frazier.

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Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal’s weekend news updates FOX Sports (all video links)…

  • Given the Braves’ third base vacancy, Rosenthal believes the team “will at least check in on Manny Machado” prior to the trade deadline.  Machado would seem like a perfect fit for an Atlanta team that is looking to stay in the postseason race, plus his impending free agency wouldn’t make him a long-term block at the hot corner for top prospect Austin Riley.  Acquiring Machado from the Orioles would require a heavy prospect cost, however, and Rosenthal wonders if the Braves might instead use their minor leaguers to acquire a frontline starting pitcher, since they’ll be pursuing such an arm anyway in the offseason.  The Braves’ prospect capital could also be used to try and pry J.T. Realmuto away from the Marlins, as Realmuto would provide a longer-term answer behind the plate than the Braves’ veteran tandem of Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers (who are both free agents this winter).
  • Even after designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment and sidestepping his potential $22MM salary for 2019, Rosenthal notes that next year’s Red Sox could still be approaching the maximum penalty limit for surpassing the luxury tax threshold.  If the Sox were more than $40MM over next year’s $206MM tax threshold, they would face up to a 90 percent tax on the overages and their top pick in the 2019 draft would drop by ten positions.  Boston already has over $137MM committed next season towards seven players, plus Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo.  Beyond that $137MM already on the books, Chris Sale’s $13.5MM club option is a no-brainer to be exercised, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are on pace for huge arbitration raises, and key players like Craig Kimbrel and Drew Pomeranz are free agents.
  • “The Rays keep playing for tomorrow and tomorrow never seems to come,” Rosenthal says about Tampa Bay’s constant need to trade high-priced players due to the team’s salary limitations.  This payroll need may be impacting the team’s ability to get the best possible return for their veteran players.  For instance, in the Rays’ recent swap that sent Alex Colome and Denard Span to the Mariners, Rosenthal wonders if the Rays could’ve gotten more for Colome if they hadn’t attached Span’s heftier remaining salary to the deal.  Tampa might have been able to get a bigger return for Colome last offseason given all of the interest he drew from other teams, and the same could potentially be said for Chris Archer, given how the right-hander’s slow start may have dimmed his trade value.

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This week in baseball blogs…

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Braves uber-prospect Ronald Acuna left the team’s game Sunday in Boston with knee and lower-back pain, the team announced. The 20-year-old outfielder exited in the seventh inning after suffering a gruesome-looking injury (video via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports), though he eventually was able to walk off the field on his own power, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. Acuna’s currently undergoing an exam at a nearby clinic, O’Brien tweets. The up-and-coming  Braves and the baseball world in general are holding their breath that isn’t a serious injury for the exciting Acuna, who has emerged as one of the game’s best rookies and a key part of a playoff contender.

More from around the NL…

  • Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will come off the disabled list and start against the Phillies on Thursday, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times was among those to report. All told, Kershaw will miss just under a month after going on the DL on May 7 with biceps tendinitis. He’ll rejoin a team that has won seven of nine since reaching a season-worst 10 games under .500 on May 16, though LA still entered Sunday just 23-28 and 3.5 games out of the NL West lead.
  • Mets third baseman David Wright last appeared in a major league game on May 27, 2017, exactly two years ago today. A laundry list of upper-body injuries have kept Wright off the field for all but 75 games since 2015, and he may be in the midst of yet another lost season. However, the captain isn’t calling it a career. Rather, the 35-year-old Wright continues to hold out hope that he’ll return to the field, and he’ll go for a re-evaluation by the end of the month, Tim Healey of Newsday writes. Healey spoke to a few of Wright’s Mets teammates about his plight, and each offered effusive praise for the seven-time All-Star. Wright, of course, is still under contract through 2020 for $47MM – including $20MM this year – but the team has an insurance policy covering about 75 percent of that money.
  • Wright’s injuries helped open the door for the Mets’ offseason signing of veteran third baseman Todd Frazier, who has dealt with his own injury issues this year. Frazier went to the DL with a hamstring issue back on May 8, but he’s almost ready for a Triple-A rehab assignment, Healey reports. The same goes for reliever and fellow winter free-agent signing Anthony Swarzak, out since the first week of the season with an oblique strain (Twitter link via Mike Puma of the New York Post).
  • More injury news on the Mets, who will send reliever AJ Ramos for an MRI on his right shoulder, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com was among those to report. It’s the latest negative development this season for the 31-year-old Ramos, who has posted a 6.41 ERA with 6.86 walks per nine over 19 2/3 innings. Ramos has been especially poor lately, having given up at least two earned runs in three of six appearances, perhaps because of an injury.

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The Padres have acquired right-hander Phil Hughes, cash and the 74th pick in June’s draft from the Twins for catcher Janigson Villalobos, per an announcement from San Diego.

More to come.

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The Mariners have designated infielder Taylor Motter for assignment, the team announced. His 40-man roster spot will go to catcher/outfielder Chris Herrmann, whom they selected from Triple-A Tacoma.

More to come.

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Kris Medlen Retires

Posted: May 27, 2018 in Uncategorized
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Veteran right-hander Kris Medlen has retired, Zach Buchanan of The Athletic reports. He had been pitching in the minors with the Diamondbacks organization.

More to come.

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