Rays lose setup man Grant Balfour for 4-6 weeks with injury

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In news that helps explain the Rays’ acquisition of Chad Qualls this morning, Grant Balfour is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a strained intercostal/rib muscle.
Balfour was brilliant for the Rays in 2008, struggled for much of last season, and has been dominant again this year with a 2.08 ERA, .218 opponents’ batting average, and 44/13 K/BB ratio in 43.1 innings.
Qualls’ secondary numbers suggest he’s a very good bet to pitch significantly better than his hideous performance in Arizona, but he’s still a big downgrade as a replacement for Balfour.

Braves sign David Hernandez

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Bill Whitehead of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Braves have signed reliever David Hernandez to a minor league contract on Sunday. He’ll report to spring training as a non-roster invitee.

Hernandez, who turns 32 years old in May, signed a minor league contract with the Giants in February. He requested and was granted his release on Friday when he learned he wasn’t making the team’s 25-man roster to open the season.

Hernandez pitched for the Phillies last year. He compiled a 3.84 ERA with an 80/32 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dave Roberts: It “doesn’t make sense” for Scott Kazmir to start year in Dodgers’ rotation

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Scott Kazmir won’t begin the regular season in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts said after Kazmir’s Cactus League outing on Sunday that it “doesn’t make sense” for the ailing Kazmir to break camp in the rotation, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. The lefty will instead rehab some more and join the rotation at a later time.

Kazmir has been battling a hip issue which has caused his mechanics to suffer. He was clocked in the low 80’s 10 days ago and wasn’t much better on Sunday afternoon.

Last season with the Dodgers, Kazmir posted a 4.56 ERA with a 134/52 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings, his worst numbers since returning to the majors in 2013.