The Rays need to make a decision on Hank Blalock

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hank blalock headshot rangers.jpgHank Blalock is (a) hitting 375/.435/.552 in Triple A; and (b) has the right to opt-out of his deal with the Rays and become a free agent if they don’t do something with him.  Yesterday, Scott Boras told Mark Topkin of the St. Pete Times that he’s poised to do just that:

“I would imagine that we’ll probably know something about Hank in the
next seven days. The time has come. The
time has come. He’s playing third base, obviously he’s hitting well,
he’s a young guy. The thought many teams had about players have come to fruition as
we expected in the first five-six weeks. I think a lot of people
understand Hank’s a better choice for them, so we’ll see. Obviously the
first hurdle is that Tampa Bay has to make their decision.”

He’s not wrong.  The Rays obviously don’t need a third baseman, but DH Pat Burrell isn’t hitting for squat right now and Carlos Pena is in a terrible slump and Blalock can play first base too.  Maybe the Rays think it’s too much of a jolt to team chemistry to call Blalock up to replace either of those guys, but calling him up to sit on the bench doesn’t enhance his trade value either.

The Mariners would probably trade a prospect, their moose, Ken Griffey’s pajamas and Mike Sweeney’s boxing gloves to have Blalock right now.  I’m not sure if they match up well with the Rays’ interests, of course, but I’m having a hard time seeing Tampa Bay simply let a valuable asset simply walk right now.

Padres, Mariners join list of teams to extend netting

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The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.

A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.