Astros hire Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills as new manager

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Manny Acta chose Cleveland over Houston when offered both manager jobs, but the Astros announced this afternoon that they’ve found a new skipper in Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills.
Mills and Terry Francona are longtime friends, playing together first at the University of Arizona and then with the Montreal Expos. Francona became the Phillies’ manager in 1997 and hired Mills as first-base coach, and then brought him on board as his bench coach after taking the Red Sox job in 2004. Interestingly, current Houston general manager Ed Wade fired Francona when he held the same job in Philadelphia.
Prior to becoming a fixture of Francona’s coaching staffs Mills managed in the minors for over a decade, so the 52-year-old brings quite a bit of experience to the table. He faces an uphill climb in Houston, because the Astros went 74-88 this season with an aging core of players and don’t have much in the way of high-upside prospects ready to contribute.
Mills previously interviewed for the Mariners job that went to Don Wakamatsu last offseason. He reportedly gets a two-year deal with a third-year option from the Astros.

Felix Hernandez will miss 3-4 weeks with shoulder bursitis

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Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.

It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.

Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.