Jonathan Sanchez aiming to return later this month

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Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez hasn’t pitched in a game since August 16 due to a badly sprained left ankle and is still dealing with discomfort here in early September. But he hasn’t given up on returning to action before the end of the 2011 regular season.

According to Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News, Sanchez was able to throw a brief bullpen session on Saturday afternoon in San Francisco and could be ready for the final two weeks of September if he continues to make steady progress.

The 28-year-old left-hander has posted an underwhelming 4.26 ERA and 102/66 K/BB ratio across 101 1/3 innings this season for the second-place Giants. He had a sparkling 3.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 205 strikeouts in 193 1/3 innings last season.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” Sanchez told the Mercury News after his Saturday throwing session. “I’m not 100 percent, but right around 60-65. When I got hurt, I couldn’t throw. I couldn’t push off, but now I can. It’s progressing. We’ve got a month left and my ankle’s getting better every day, so I’ll do whatever I can. I just want to get to the playoffs, so I’ll do whatever they want me to do bullpen, starting, whatever.”

The defending-champion Giants are currently six games back of the Diamondbacks in the National League West standings and 8 1/2 games behind the Braves in the hunt for the National League Wild Card.

Kris Bryant exits game with sprained right ankle

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The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.

Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.

Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby

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Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.

Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).

Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.