Ryan Zimmerman feeling little progress in right oblique

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Things are looking grim for Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

He was diagnosed with a strained right oblique muscle earlier this week and has not played in a game since Wednesday. According to the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore, Zimmerman has yet to report any kind of improvement as of Sunday afternoon. 

“No change,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “As long as there’s no change, he won’t
play. It’s got to get a lot better for him to play. It feels the same.
It might be a little better, but not enough to change his status.”

Riggleman suggested Saturday that Zimmerman could be shut down for the rest of the season for precautionary reasons.  Unless something changes within the next day or two, that will almost certainly be the course of action.

Zimmerman, 25, has turned in a stellar 307/.388/.510 batting line, 25 home runs and 85 RBI over 525 at-bats this year while playing excellent defense at the hot corner.  He should get a couple of MVP votes and would be near the top of the pack for that award if he were on a better team.

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.