Astros shortstop Tommy Manzella breaks finger, out six weeks

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It’s a tough blow for a 27-year-old who probably isn’t in line for many chances to establish himself in the big leagues.
Tommy Manzella, who took over as the Astros’ shortstop when Miguel Tejada was allowed to leave over the winter, will miss six weeks after being diagnosed with a fractured left index finger. The team called up Oswaldo Navarro to replace him.
Manzella’s calling card is his glove, but he did improve to .289/.339/.417 in 580 at-bats in Triple-A last year, giving the Astros some hope that he wouldn’t be a complete offensive zero this season.
Unfortunately, he’s regressed substantially. Manzella was hitting just .212/.259/.254 in 189 at-bats. Not only wasn’t he showing any power, but he wasn’t even making contact, having struck out 57 times.
The Astros will use Navarro and Geoff Blum at shortstop for now.
Navarro debuted in the majors with the Mariners as a 21-year-old in 2006, but he hadn’t been back since until appearing in three games with Houston last month. He was hitting .298/.400/.466 while splitting time between short and second for Triple-A Round Rock, so he’s worthy of the opportunity. If he hits, then Manzella might not have a job awaiting him when he returns.
Blum, of course, offers oodles of veteran presence to go along with a 555 OPS in 115 at-bats this season and a third baseman’s range. With any luck, he’ll remain on the bench while Navarro is given a chance to seize the job.

Report: Nationals sign reliever Brandon Kintzler to a two-year deal

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Both a Kinsler and a Kintzler made headlines at the Winter Meetings. After the Angels acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Tigers, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Nationals have inked reliever Brandon Kintzler to a two-year contract, pending a physical. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the deal is worth $10 million and includes a third-year option worth $6 million.

Kintzler, 33, spent the latter half of his 2017 campaign with the Nationals after the Twins traded him. Between both clubs, he put up an aggregate 3.03 ERA with 29 saves and a 39/16 K/BB ratio in 71 1/3 innings.

Sean Doolittle will handle save situations for the Nationals. Kintzler and Ryan Madson will bridge the gap to him in the seventh and eighth innings.