Braves activate Brian McCann, but lose Tommy Hanson

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First, the good news.

According to the Braves’ official Twitter account, catcher Brian McCann has been activated from the disabled list and will return to Atlanta’s starting lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs.

He went 2-for-6 with a home run and two RBI in a two-game minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett. The All-Star backstop wound up missing 18 days with a strained left oblique muscle.

McCann, 27, is batting .306/.375/.514 with 18 home runs, 15 doubles and 55 RBI through 373 plate appearances this season for the National League Wild Card-leading Braves. He should have no trouble picking up where he left off.

Now, the sour news.

According to the same official Braves tweet, right-hander Tommy Hanson has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. The move was made retroactive to August 7, so he probably won’t be out long, but the news arrives as further confirmation that the 24-year-old ace is having physical problems.

Hanson has registered a sparkling 3.60 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 130 innings this year, but his July ERA was a bloated 4.58 and he allowed seven runs on eight hits in his only August start. Maybe the rest will help.

The Braves activated reliever Scott Linebrink from the disabled list and optioned Anthony Varvaro back to Triple-A Gwinnett in corresponding roster moves. Atlanta currently leads the Wild Card by five games.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.