Hafner won't play the field on nine-game NL road trip

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Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner hasn’t played first base since 2007 and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.  According to John Barone of MLB.com, the one they call “Pronk” will be limited to pinch-hitting duties during the Tribe’s upcoming nine-game interleague road trip.

The expedition through National League ballparks begins Friday, when the Indians open a three-game series against the Pirates.  The club will travel from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia for a three-game set, then it’s off to Cincinnati to wrap things up.  Hafner may get around nine at-bats over that span, if he’s lucky.

“It wouldn’t be fair to him,” manager Manny Acta said on the topic of Hafner possibly playing the field. “What are we going to do? Hit
him one million grounders today so he’ll be ready tomorrow? He doesn’t
get defensive work.”

Hafner entered Thursday hitting .258/.372/.438 with eight home runs and 26 RBI over 194 at-bats.  He’s 9-for-24 with two doubles, four homers and eight RBI over his past eight games.  A prolonged hot streak will have to wait.

Nationals will add Mat Latos to the roster on Thursday

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 11:  Mat Latos #38 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 11, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Thursday is September 1, which means rosters expand. As a result, the Nationals plan to promote pitcher Mat Latos to the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Latos had an opt-out clause for Monday, but after discussing the matter with the team, he agreed to stay at Triple-A Syracuse until Thursday.

Latos, 28, put up a 4.62 ERA over 11 starts with the White Sox before being released in mid-June. Nearly two weeks later, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals.

In the Nationals’ minor league system, Latos has made three starts for the club’s Gulf Coast League team as well as three for Syracuse. In aggregate, the right-hander has yielded six runs (four earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings.

Latos will likely pitch out of a long relief role for the Nationals and can be used as starting rotation insurance as well.

John Gibbons texts Mark Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September.”

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 2:  Mark Buehrle #56 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the second inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on October 2, 2015 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Mark Buehrle hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional baseball since last October. Still, the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind having some insurance, so manager John Gibbons recently texted Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September,” Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.

Buehrle’s response? He texted back a picture of a lake. Sounds like he’s not interested in making a return, at least this year.

Last year, at the age of 36, Buehrle went 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA with a 91/33 K/BB ratio in 198 2/3 innings while leading the league with four complete games. He fell 1 1/3 innings shy of a 15th consecutive 200-inning season. There are many worse ways to end a career.