Bagwell ready to begin hitting coach gig with Astros

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Former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell will begin his tenure as the club’s hitting coach on Thursday night, as Houston opens the second half of the 2010 season with a series against the Pirates.  Alyson Footer, who works for the team as senior director of social media, passes along this photo.

Bagwell looks like he could strap up the cleats and hit a few out of Pittsburgh’s PNC Park tonight, but that is not his mission.  The 42-year-old will try his best to help the Astros climb out of Major League Baseball’s offensive cellar. 

Entering the All-Star break, the Astros ranked 28th in the league in runs scored, 29th in batting average, 29th in slugging percentage and tied for dead last in home runs with 57.  Bagwell, of course, was known for hitting dingers during his 15-year professional career and will try to pass along some knowledge.

Of course, it can be debated whether or not a hitting coach has any impact on the performance of athletes who have been playing the game at the highest level for years.  Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle, for one, thinks the Bagwell hire was all part of a lame public relations ploy and that former batting coach Sean Berry should have never been dumped from his post.

Steve Delabar among three suspended after testing positive

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Three players were suspended on Monday after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. They are: Indians pitcher Steve Delabar, Mariners pitcher Jonathan Aro, and free agent pitcher Jeffry Hernandez. Aro got a 50-game suspension while the other two were handed 80-game suspensions.

Delabar, 33, hasn’t pitched yet this season after signing a minor league deal with the Indians back in January. He spent last year with the Reds as well as the Hiroshima Carp in the Japan Central League. The right-hander has struggled over the last few seasons.

Aro, 26, also hasn’t appeared yet this season in the minors. He’s worked mostly in relief. The right-hander appeared briefly in the majors with the Mariners last season and logged 10 1/3 innings in the show with the Red Sox in 2015. Aro went to the Mariners along with Wade Miley in the trade that brought the Red Sox Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.

Hernandez, 22, is a free agent and his suspension will be effective if and when he signs with a new team.

Phillies place Aaron Nola on the disabled list

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The Phillies announced on Monday that starter Aaron Nola has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 21, with a lower back strain.

Nola, 23, compiled a 4.50 ERA with a 15/6 K/BB ratio over his first three starts spanning 16 innings. He felt some back soreness during his last start on Thursday against the Mets, and it lingered when he had a side session on Sunday.

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury hears that the Phillies are likely to call up Nick Pivetta from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Nola’s place in the rotation. Nola was scheduled to start on Wednesday.

Pivetta, 24, was acquired from the Nationals in the Jonathan Papelbon trade in July 2015. At Triple-A so far, Pivetta has given up only two earned runs on 12 hits and two walks with 24 strikeouts in 19 innings.