Wagner declines All-Star invite, Kuo takes final spot

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Braves outfielder Jason Heyward backed out of the All-Star Game Saturday due to his ongoing recovery from a left thumb bruise, so National League squad manager Charlie Manuel asked closer Billy Wagner on Sunday if he would like to go to Anaheim instead.  Wagner declined respectfully, citing an ankle injury that he would prefer to rest.

“It’s just good that I take some time off,” Wagner told Mark Bowman of MLB.com.  “I can pitch
on it.  But I’d hate to try to push it, when I know that I had some
time. I’d feel better if I knew that I was around for the whole
duration of this year, rather than trying to fight through this ankle
all year.  When we get closer to the end, I’m going to have to be ready
to go everyday and there’s no days off.”

Fair enough.  The Braves have lofty goals this season and the 38-year-old Wagner is wise to want as much rest as possible.

Set on adding a lefty, Manuel then phoned Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez, and Kuo jumped at the opportunity to participate in Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic.  He’s plenty deserving with a 1.03 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 12 holds through 25 appearances this season and his addition to the NL squad makes sense from a strategy standpoint.  Both rosters are now set.

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.