Rafael Soriano unavailable for two-game series against Rays

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Rafael Soriano won’t be facing his old teammates in a two-game series that begins tonight, as the reliever’s elbow soreness will keep him unavailable against the Rays.

Soriano walked two in a scoreless inning Friday for his only action since May 8, but told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that he’s hoping to throw a problem-free bullpen session today and be cleared to return Wednesday.

Joe Girardi suggested that Soriano’s current soreness is “because he hadn’t thrown in five days” rather than his previous elbow problems remaining an issue. Soriano has recovered from a terrible first two weeks with the Yankees to allow just three runs in his last 10 appearances, reducing his ERA from 8.10 to 5.40, but the $35 million free agent signing certainly isn’t off to a great start in New York.

UPDATE: Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger reports that Soriano “felt stiffness again during his bullpen” session today, so it looks like a Wednesday return is probably optimistic.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves