UPDATE: Hank Blalock, Rays in serious talks

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blalock headshot.JPGUPDATE: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times confirms that the Rays and Blalock are sorting out a minor league contract, though Topkin adds that “Nothing is done yet.”

SATURDAY, 10:22pm: We’re well into the month of March, and yet free agent first baseman Hank Blalock remains unsigned.  That could change soon.

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Rays are in “serious talks” with Blalock.  The 29-year-old posted an ugly .234/.277/.459 batting line last season, but still managed to smack 25 home runs.  He would be a nice addition to Tampa Bay’s DH mix, which currently includes Pat Burrell and Willy Aybar.  He could also provide insurance at first base behind Carlos Pena, who underwent surgery late last season for two broken fingers.

Blalock was reportedly offered a minor league contract from the Marlins several weeks ago.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.