Brian McCann thinks the Omar Infante critics can stuff it

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less out of Brian McCann. I think most players would stick up for their teammate in this situation, even if that teammate happened to be one of the least-deserving All-Stars in baseball history.

Nonetheless, McCann should get some kudos for a pretty admirable job attempting to lay out the case for Infante’s inclusion in tonight’s game:

“He can’t pitch and he can’t catch, but he can play every position at a high level and we get to see that every night,” McCann said. “His teammates get to see how valuable he is to us. He’s hitting .320 (.332, actually!), he’s gotten big hit after big hit, he plays great defense at every position.

“He will cherish this forever, and he deserves it. People who say someone else should have been on the team don’t know how hard it is to come to the field not knowing where you’re going to hit in the lineup, not knowing if you’re going to play third, center, right, second, short. So he deserves to be here just as much as anybody.”

And Infante said: Well I couldn’t understand much of anything, other than “very happy.”

I guess it’s time for me to take some Spanish lessons, or for someone to rustle up a translator for Omar.

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Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.