Garrett Atkins would "welcome" release from Orioles

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After the Orioles acquired Jake Fox from the A’s earlier this week, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com speculated that Garrett Atkins would be designated for assignment in order to make room for Saturday’s starter Brad Bergesen. It turns out that won’t happen, as Lou Montanez will go on the disabled list with an oblique strain.

Still, it’s essentially a foregone conclusion that Atkins will be released at some point in the near future. The 30-year-old infielder was signed to a one-year, $4.5 million contract with an $8.5 million club option for 2011 after being non-tendered by the Rockies last December, but entering Friday’s action, he is batting just .219/.282/.292 with one home run and nine RBI over 137 at-bats. He has just 11 at-bats this month and is making his first start since June 14 on Friday.

With the writing clearly on the wall, Atkins told Ghiroli that he doesn’t view his inevitable release as a bad thing.

“Not at all,” he said. “[It would] be a welcome opportunity.”

By the way, Atkins just grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning against the Nationals. He’s doing all the little things to earn his release. You have to respect that.
 

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.