Rangers to go it without Hamilton, McCarthy

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Within a two-hour span Monday, the Rangers revealed that they picked up
manager Ron Washington’s option for 2010, that Josh Hamilton would
undergo surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle and that Brandon
McCarthy was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right shoulder.

Taking them one at a time:

– Washington’s option was an easy call. There were times last year
at which it didn’t seem he’d last into 2009, but with the Rangers off
to such a fine start, there shouldn’t have been any hesitation In
guaranteeing his modest salary for another year. I still don’t think
Nolan Ryan is sold on Washington, but his players seem quite fond of
him. If Washington leads the team to the postseason, then he should get
a real contract extension over the winter.

– Hamilton is slated to miss 4-6 weeks following surgery on Tuesday.
He should come back after the All-Star break and produce, but last
year’s 156-game season will likely go down as a fluke from a player who
has spent much of his pro career sidelined due to injury when not
suspended because of drugs. Marlon Byrd has replaced him in center
field, with David Murphy picking up most of the time in left. Andruw
Jones remains a backup despite his 933 OPS in 92 at-bats. Murphy is at
708 in 112 at-bats.

– McCarthy’s loss could prove to be bigger, depending on whether
this stress fracture is worse than the one that kept him out in 2007.
Incredibly, he was able to return after just a month off when he
suffered a stress fracture in his shoulder blade in Aug. 2007. McCarthy
has a 4.92 ERA this season, but he’s pitched fairly effectively in
eight of his 11 starts. The Rangers were expected to put Derek Holland
back into the bullpen to make room for the returning Matt Harrison, but
he’ll probably have to remain a starter now. It’s a very good thing the
Rangers had yet to pay anyone to take Vicente Padilla off their hands.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.