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Jair Jurrjens to visit knee specialist this weekend

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MLB.com beat writer Mark Bowman suggested Thursday morning that Jair Jurrjens’ recent struggles might be attributed to lingering discomfort in the young starter’s troublesome right knee.

It turns out Bowman was right.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported about one hour ago that Jurrjens is scheduled to visit knee specialist Dr. Richard Steadman this weekend in Vail, Colorado.

The Braves are confident that Jurrjens does not have any structural damage in his right knee because an MRI taken Wednesday revealed only a bone bruise. Rather, they’re hoping that the visit will yield new treatment options. And maybe an assurance that the 25-year-old right-hander will be back to his old dominant self by the time the postseason arrives.

Jurrjens posted an ugly 6.17 ERA in four August starts and will likely have to be skipped on his next turn through the Braves’ starting rotation, but he was one of baseball’s best pitchers during the first half of this season and will try to get back in the groove before the beginning of October.

The Braves hold an eight-game lead over the Cardinals in the National League Wild Card standings.

Video: Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran give signs from the dugout

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers stands in the dugout before their game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.

You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this:

Yordano Ventura exits game with back tightness

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.

It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.

Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.