Frank Francisco getting close to rejoining Rangers bullpen

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Out since August 27 with a back injury, Frank Francisco threw 20 pitches from flat ground yesterday in what Anthony Andro of the Dallas Morning News called “the most extensive throwing session he’s had since he went on the disabled list.”
Andro reports that Francisco will advance to throwing off a mound tomorrow, with a follow-up bullpen session slated for Thursday, at which point he could be cleared for game action with an eye toward including him on the ALDS roster.
While he’s unlikely to immediately reclaim a prominent late-inning role after a month on the sidelines, Francisco would certainly be a nice “extra” arm in the middle innings for the Rangers. Prior to landing on the DL he had a 3.76 ERA, .247 opponents’ batting average, and 60/18 K/BB ratio in 52.2 innings.
He actually began the season as Texas’ closer before early struggles led the Rangers to hand ninth-inning duties to rookie Neftali Feliz.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.