Zach Duke struck with comebacker, has broken hand

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The Diamondbacks acquired Zach Duke in a trade with the Pirates this winter with the intention of adding depth to their starting rotation. Arizona was thinking that the 27-year-old southpaw would do well with a change of scenery after finishing with a 5.72 ERA over 29 starts for the Bucs in 2010.

But things have been a bit rocky this spring.

Duke has allowed a whopping 18 hits and eight runs over his first eight innings of Cactus League play and he was forced from his Saturday evening appearance against the Rockies after taking a line drive off the back of his pitching hand.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic caught up with Duke on Sunday morning. He sounded optimistic about the injury being minor, though he offered no explanation for his recent struggles on the mound.

“I can move my fingers,” said Duke. “Obviously, there’s discomfort. But I feel pretty good about it. . . . They did some tests, some trainers’ tests where they pushed on my knuckles and everything. I didn’t have any sharp, shooting pains or anything.”

The D’Backs will likely scratch Duke from his next scheduled start as a precautionary measure. He should be healthy in about a week, but effectiveness may continue to escape him right on through Opening Day.

UPDATE: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Duke has two broken bones in his pitching hand and won’t throw a baseball for at least the next month.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.