Atlanta is down its top two center fielders after Nate McLouth was placed on the disabled list Friday due to a lower abdominal strain.
Jordan Schafer was previously placed on the DL on Wednesday because of a chip fracture in his left middle finger.
Taking McLouth’s place on the roster and making his major league debut in center for Atlanta tonight is minor league veteran Jose Constanza. At 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds, he becomes one of the tiniest players on a major league roster, and he has the power to match, as he had collected just seven extra-base hits — two doubles, four triples and one homer — in 333 at-bats for Triple-A Gwinnett this season. He was hitting .312/.361/.351 with 23 steals in 31 attempts.
As a stopgap, a team could do worse. Constanza will play pretty good defense and do his best to slap some grounders through the infield. Still, the Braves have a greater need for an outfielder than ever now, and while Hunter Pence and Ryan Ludwick are supposed to be atop their list, a legitimate center fielder like B.J. Upton or Coco Crisp might do them more good.
The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.
Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.
While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.