Ryan Braun leaves game with strained intercostal muscle

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Ryan Braun left this afternoon’s game against the Diamondbacks after the top of the first inning due to a strained left intercostal muscle, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.

The team has him listed as day-to-day right now, but there’s some reason for concern here. Braun has suffered intercostal injuries multiple times in the past, including one that carried into the 2009 season. There’s nothing to suggest that today’s injury will impact his availability for Opening Day, but look for the Brewers to take every precaution here.

Braun batted .304/.366/.501 with 25 homers, 103 RBI, 14 stolen bases and an .866 OPS last season. He is often overlooked in the conversation about the game’s best sluggers, likely by virtue of where he plays, but the 27-year-old outfielder has compiled 128 home runs over his first four seasons, eighth-highest in major league history. As you can see below, the company is pretty impressive.

1. Ralph Kiner – 168

2. Albert Pujols – 160

3. Eddie Matthews – 153

4. Mark Teixeira – 140

5. Joe DiMaggio – 137

6. Frank Robinson – 134

7. Ryan Howard – 129

8. Ryan Braun – 128

9. Ted Williams – 127

10. Chuck Klein – 125

(Hat-tip to the irreplaceable Baseball Reference)

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.