The Cubs are worried about Piniella's health

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Thumbnail image for piniella_090818.jpgHeyman’s new column is mostly about the starting pitching market, but there’s not a ton new there.  Here’s something interesting, though: the Cubs management is worried about Lou Piniella’s health.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s been thinking this.  Watching Piniella make that pitching change in the ninth last night was highly uncomfortable. I suppose it’s possible that his slow walk was to give Carlos Marmol a few extra pitches, but this is not the first time I’ve noticed it during Cubs games. He’s got this slow heel-toe thing going on — not to mention the beach ball gut — that I’ve noticed in relatives whose health was on the decline. I mean, getting fat is one thing, but carrying an anvil in front of an otherwise normal body just looks kind of . . . scary.

I obviously have no idea what the state of Piniella’s health is — I’m just reacting emotionally to what I’ve seen of him — and I obviously hope he’s fine.  But the look about him combined with what Heyman’s sources with the Cubs are saying is rather unsettling.

Erasmo Ramirez to be shut down with a minor lat strain

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Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s a precautionary move, as Ramirez felt some tightness in his arm and could not complete his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday.

There’s no word yet on whether Ramirez will be able to recover in time for the start of the season, though he’s expected to claim a rotation spot again this spring. The 28-year-old righty has been dogged by injuries throughout his six-year career, but finally managed to piece together a full season on the mound in back-to-back stints with the Rays and Mariners in 2017. He went 5-6 in 19 starts for the two clubs and turned in a cumulative 4.39 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 131 1/3 innings.

The Mariners are no stranger to pitcher injuries, either. They lost a number of their top arms to various elbow, arm and shoulder injuries last year and cycled through 40 total pitchers as they limped toward a 78-84 finish. Comments from club manager Scott Servais indicate that the team will keep a close eye on Ramirez throughout his recovery, though Divish notes that right-hander Andrew Moore and lefty Ariel Miranda could also slot into the no. 5 spot if Ramirez experiences further setbacks.