Jon Lester throws bullpen session, set for Monday start

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Jon Lester threw a problem-free bullpen session this morning and is scheduled to return from the disabled list Monday against the Royals.

Lester hasn’t pitched since July 5 because of a strained left latissimus, but manager Terry Francona told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal that the left-hander is healthy now and simply needs to build back his arm strength:

There’s no issues. That’s good. We’re just trying to ramp him up and let him get strong. He feels nothing in that lat, which is great. That’s what we wanted. Now it’s just the idea of getting him back to where he can go out there and start a game and not be so limited to where he can only throw 50 pitches.

According to Britton the pitch count for Monday’s start figures to be around 80 or 90. Aside from leaving the July 5 outing early, Lester hasn’t thrown fewer than 93 pitches in a start since Opening Day.

Felix Hernandez will miss 3-4 weeks with shoulder bursitis

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Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.

It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.

Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.