Red Sox make two bullpen changes, including designating Dennys Reyes for assignment

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After six straight losses the Red Sox have made their first moves of the season, placing Matt Albers on the disabled list and designating Dennys Reyes for assignment while replacing them in the bullpen with Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront.

Reyes beat out Hideki Okajima for the left-handed specialist gig during spring training, but is now being cut loose after throwing all of 1.2 innings. He didn’t pitch well, allowing three runs while struggling to throw strikes, but if Reyes was good enough to make the Opening Day roster (and get $900,000) he’s seemingly good enough to stick with for longer than a week.

Instead of replacing him with Okajima the Red Sox are instead turning to Doubront, who began the season on the disabled list with an elbow injury. He’s been exclusively a starter in the minors, but the 23-year-old lefty will try to stick around in the bullpen for now.

Aceves probably would have made the Opening Day roster if not for the fact that he had a minor-league option remaining and could be sent to Triple-A.  The former Yankee has the potential be a setup-caliber reliever if healthy and also serves as rotation depth should the Red Sox need another starter. He had a 3.21 ERA and 87/30 K/BB ratio in 126 innings for the Yankees during the past three years.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.