Justin Masterson sent to bullpen due to innings limit

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Justin Masterson will pitch as a reliever for the remainder of the season in an effort to limit his workload, according to the Indians’ official Twitter feed. He will be available out of the bullpen for tonight’s game against the Twins.

Masterson is at 166 innings this season after throwing 129 1/3 innings between the Red Sox and Indians last season. Besides jockeying with the Royals for last place in the AL Central, the Indians don’t have much to play for, so it makes plenty of sense to manage him carefully down the stretch.

The 25-year-old right-hander has struggled at times this season, but has rallied to lower his ERA from 5.47 to 4.88 over the past month. Masterson posted a 1.74 ERA over his final three starts, including seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Angels on Tuesday.

A groundball pitcher like Masterson will probably see his luck fluctuate from year-to-year, but as long as he can continue to improve his command, he should be a pretty useful starter for the Indians moving forward.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.