Kyle Blanks sees first game action in 10 months and “the results weren’t pretty”

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Kyle Blanks started at designated hitter yesterday in a “B” game against the Mariners, marking the first time he’s faced live pitching in 10 months as he comes back from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Blanks went 0-for-2 with one walk and two strikeouts, and John Maffei of the North County Times writes that “the results weren’t pretty.”

In his postgame assessment, Blanks seemed to agree that he was very rusty:

I’ve been tracking balls in batting practice, but this was the first live at-bats with the intent to hit the ball. I definitely felt competitive, but the reps just aren’t there. And those were the first breaking balls I’ve seen since early last season. I didn’t get ready, didn’t get set. I rushed myself. But I’ll take that to the bank and remember it. The last at-bat was bad. I haven’t see stuff like that for a long time.

Blanks will have plenty of time to shake off the rust, as he’s expected to begin the season on the disabled list and, once ready, will head out on what figures to be a 20-day rehab assignment. Blanks is unsure about his official timetable, but did say: “One thing is for sure … I need to get some serious reps on the curveball machine.”

At just 24 years old the former top prospect remains a big part of the Padres’ long-term plans, but he’ll likely have to work his way back into the lineup with platoon job splitting time with left-handed hitters Will Venable or Brad Hawpe.

Felix Hernandez will miss 3-4 weeks with shoulder bursitis

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Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.

It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.

Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.