Tito tinkers with the lineup, but it doesn’t really matter

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Terry Francona is tinkering with the lineup for today’s game with the Yankees: he has moved Carl Crawford to the top of the order — his fourth different slot in seven games — and he’s rounding it out with Pedroia second, Gonzalez third and then Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew, Saltalamacchia, Ellsbury and Scutaro.

Lineup order doesn’t interest me too much. For example, unlike some — who are taking this very seriously — I haven’t gotten too worked up over the Braves batting Jason Heyward sixth. Is it ideal? No. But batting order is a pretty small thing in the grand scheme and there are a lot of things more worthy of my limited supplies of ire. Like golf. God, do I hate golf.

As for the Red Sox, this lineup change comes with a couple of pre-set storylines, ready for any result in today’s game.  If the Sox score a lot and win, Francona “sparked” things by putting Crawford in the leadoff spot. If they lose, Francona was “desperately shuffling, hoping for a spark.”

There are a butt-ton of good hitters in that lineup. Eventually they’ll all hit, and it won’t really matter where they’re at.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.