Quick hits: Braves are making it interesting

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– The Braves might make a race of this thing. They won their fifth straight on Saturday afternoon,
storming past the last-place Nationals 11-5. They have won 13 out of
their last 15 games to move within three games of the Rockies for the
National League Wild Card. The Braves have eight games left, including
four against the Nationals again to close the season, so while a
comeback of epic proportions looks unlikely, don’t count them out.
After all, the Rockies aren’t exactly striding to the finish — they
are 5-5 over their last 10 games.




– According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, desperate for pitching help, the Diamondbacks may listen to offers for shortstop Stephen Drew
this winter. After a promising 2008, the former first-round pick is
batting just .259/.323/.430 with 12 homers and 59 RBI this season.
Since he is under the organization’s control through 2012, the club
hopes he might be an attractive piece on the trade market entering his
“Age 27” season. With agent Scott Boras in tow, the club is unlikely to
lock Drew up with a long-term deal at a reasonable price if he bounces
back in 2010.




– The hard-charging Twins will try to make it five in a row
when Scott Baker (13-9, 4.43) opposes Lenny DiNardo (0-1, 8.22) and the
Royals on Saturday night. The Twins have won 10 of 11 and currently sit
just two games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. Detroit will send
Nate Robertson (2-2, 5.13) to the hill against Freddy Garcia (2-3,
4.01). The Tigers were shut out by Jake Peavy on Friday night. It
should get very interesting when the Twins and Tigers meet for a
four-game series on Monday in Detroit.




– And finally, Lookout Landing has Ichiro’s first-career ejection covered from all angles, including some nifty .gifs. Gotta love it.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.