Hunter Pence likely out until Friday with sprained left elbow

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The Astros hoped to have Hunter Pence back in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Rangers, but a setback has likely put him on the shelf until Friday.

Pence hasn’t played since last Friday due to a sprained left elbow. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that he showed up to the ballpark today unable to swing a bat after feeling continued discomfort.

“It’s just not ready to swing,” he said. “It’s close, very close, but I’m not ready. There’s really no way other to say I can’t really swing. Until I can, I don’t know how you can really play. I’m going to wait until it’s ready so I can play. I’m going to play hard and play good.”

Pence is hitting .321/.361/.497 with nine homers, 51 RBI and an .858 OPS over 310 plate appearances this season. Entering play Tuesday, the 28-year-old outfielder ranks fourth in the league in batting average and RBI.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.