Brandon Morrow switching roles … again

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I’ve been impressed with the Mariners’ new regime, as first-year
general manager Jack Zduriencik and company have made some nice moves
at the margins of the roster–focusing primarily on low-cost free
agents and improving the defense–without overhauling things
completely.

The team is 28-30 after losing 101 games last season, but one of my
few criticisms of the Zduriencik front office so far was the decision
to convert Brandon Morrow into a full-time reliever at the age of 24.
However, it sounds like those plans have now been scrapped.

After struggling in the closer role and eventually giving way to David
Aardsma in the ninth inning, Morrow reportedly approached the Mariners
recently about becoming a starter again and the new plan is for the
former University of California ace to build up arm strength back at
Triple-A.

Morrow has started just 15 total games between the majors and minors
since the Mariners made him the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft,
so he figures to be at Triple-A for a while. However, ultimately giving
a young pitcher with outstanding raw stuff the opportunity to sink or
swim in a 200-inning role before moving him to a 70-inning role is
almost always the right call (see: Chamberlain, Joba).

Through his first 121 appearances, 116 of which have come out of the
bullpen, Morrow has a 4.06 ERA, 161/98 K/BB ratio, and .216 opponents’
batting average in 146 innings. It remains to be seen whether his shaky
control will be any less of a problem working every fifth day for
80-100 pitches rather than every 2-3 days for 15-30 pitches, but it
certainly makes sense to find out.

Assuming that he doesn’t change his mind again next week, of course.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.

Video: Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran give signs from the dugout

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers stands in the dugout before their game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.

You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: