Denard Span undergoes MRI exam on injured shoulder

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Denard Span underwent an MRI exam today after hurting his shoulder while trying to make a diving catch last week and revealed that he initially injured the shoulder way back in June.
Normally that might explain why Span’s production has dropped off so much this season. After all, he’s hitting just .267 with a .680 OPS in 87 games since the initial injury. Of course, he hit a nearly identical .264 with a .698 OPS in 57 games before the injury, so that’s a tougher case to make.
After sitting out a few days last week Span was able to play in each of the Twins’ past three games, and indicated to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com that he doesn’t expect to miss much time down the stretch. Fortunately for the Twins clinching the AL Central title with two weeks to go provides plenty of leeway to rest guys like Span and Joe Mauer, who received a cortisone shot in his sore knee today.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.