Bad timing: Tommy Hunter suffers strained right groin

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Mere hours after announcing that young flame-thrower Neftali Feliz will remain in his familiar ninth inning role to open the 2011 season, the Rangers got a dose of unfortunate news concerning one of the members of their starting rotation.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, right-hander Tommy Hunter was lifted from his Cactus League outing Thursday against the Reds due to a strained muscle in the right side of his groin.

Hunter told reporters after the game that he is still aiming to be available for the start of the regular season, but that seems way doubtful given the normal recovery time for a groin strain. It’s almost certain, in fact, that he’s going to be placed on the disabled list before Opening Day.

The Rangers probably won’t want to use Feliz as a spot starter in the early going even though he’s stretched out and wholly capable, so they’ll likely look to a guy like Scott Feldman or maybe even Dave Bush to do the filling in while Hunter recovers. It should only be three or four weeks.

Hunter, 24, finished with a healthy 13-4 record and 3.73 ERA over 128 innings last season for Texas.

Kris Bryant exits game with sprained right ankle

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The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.

Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.

Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby

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Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.

Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).

Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.