David Aardsma plays catch for first time since hip surgery

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David Aardsma played catch yesterday, marking the first time the Mariners closer has thrown since undergoing hip surgery in January.

Mariners trainer Rick Griffin called it “a good start” and told Greg Johns of MLB.com that Aardsma “felt good.”

Aardsma just shed his crutches last week, so he still has a long way to go before being cleared for game action and the best-case scenario for his recovery would likely mean debuting for the Mariners in late April.

In the meantime Brandon League is the favorite for saves in Seattle after posting a 3.42 ERA, 56/27 K/BB ratio, and .229 opponents’ batting average in 79 innings as Aardsma’s primary setup man last season.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.

Ervin Santana gets Opening Day nod from Twins again

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Ervin Santana will once again start on Opening Day for the Twins, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. He’ll face the Royals at home in a day game on Monday, April 3.

The last pitcher to start back-to-back Opening Days for the Twins was Carl Pavano in 2011-12.

Santana, 34, is entering the third year of a four-year, $55 million contract signed in December 2014. Last season, the right-hander finished with a solid 3.38 ERA and a 149/53 K/BB ratio over 181 1/3 innings.