Rick Ankiel likely sidelined through the weekend

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Rick Ankiel got off to a great start with the Royals, hitting .308 with three homers and three doubles through 11 games, but then went into a 1-for-21 slump that dropped his OPS nearly 250 points and suffered a strained right quadriceps muscle while running out a ground ball Saturday.
Ankiel hasn’t played since the injury, sitting out five straight games, and Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that he’s unlikely to rejoin the lineup before Monday. However, manager Trey Hillman said the Royals aren’t thinking about placing Ankiel on the disabled list because they “want that bat available off the bench as a pinch-hitter.”
Ankiel started 16 of the first 17 games in center field as part of Kansas City’s touted “three center fielders” outfield, but it was really more like a “three corner outfielders who at some point played center field” outfield because Ankiel has never graded out well there and Scott Podsednik doesn’t even look very good in left field at this point.
Not surprisingly the Royals’ outfield has combined for an Ultimate Zone Rating of -2.7 runs this season to rank 19th in baseball, although Ankiel’s center field replacement, Mitch Maier, has actually posted a positive number while filling in this week.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.

Report: Phillies making Maikel Franco available in trade discussions

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.

Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.

It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.

Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.