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.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.