Ron Washington for manager of the year

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Not just because he has led the Rangers to a big division lead, but because he has made it clear that he understands what wins baseball games and who, exactly, is in charge:

Francoeur, a 2002 first-round pick of the Atlanta Braves, hit .237 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs in 124 games this season with the Mets.

“We got him here to face lefties,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I’ll put him out there when we face lefties.” Washington said if Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are healthy they would definitely be in the outfield every day.

How hard was that?  And if Francoeur will get onboard with being a platoon player — which he wouldn’t do in New York — and adjust his offseason salary expectations accordingly, he may find himself playing major league baseball for a few more years.

Erasmo Ramirez to be shut down with a minor lat strain

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Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s a precautionary move, as Ramirez felt some tightness in his arm and could not complete his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday.

There’s no word yet on whether Ramirez will be able to recover in time for the start of the season, though he’s expected to claim a rotation spot again this spring. The 28-year-old righty has been dogged by injuries throughout his six-year career, but finally managed to piece together a full season on the mound in back-to-back stints with the Rays and Mariners in 2017. He went 5-6 in 19 starts for the two clubs and turned in a cumulative 4.39 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 131 1/3 innings.

The Mariners are no stranger to pitcher injuries, either. They lost a number of their top arms to various elbow, arm and shoulder injuries last year and cycled through 40 total pitchers as they limped toward a 78-84 finish. Comments from club manager Scott Servais indicate that the team will keep a close eye on Ramirez throughout his recovery, though Divish notes that right-hander Andrew Moore and lefty Ariel Miranda could also slot into the no. 5 spot if Ramirez experiences further setbacks.