Nelson Cruz returns to Rangers’ starting lineup tonight

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Nelson Cruz is back in the Rangers’ starting lineup tonight against the Mariners as the designated hitter. He struck out in a pinch-hit appearance on Wednesday, but this will be his first start since straining his left hamstring on August 28.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers hope Cruz will be able to play right field again as soon as Tuesday. If he feels well enough to give it a go, Josh Hamilton will become the center fielder and the hot-hitting David Murphy will play left field. Craig Gentry and Endy Chavez, who have split center field duties for most of the season, will head to the bench.

Cruz, 31, is batting .270/.321/.530 with 28 home runs, 84 RBI, nine stolen bases and an .851 OPS over 470 plate appearances this season.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.

Ervin Santana gets Opening Day nod from Twins again

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Ervin Santana will once again start on Opening Day for the Twins, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. He’ll face the Royals at home in a day game on Monday, April 3.

The last pitcher to start back-to-back Opening Days for the Twins was Carl Pavano in 2011-12.

Santana, 34, is entering the third year of a four-year, $55 million contract signed in December 2014. Last season, the right-hander finished with a solid 3.38 ERA and a 149/53 K/BB ratio over 181 1/3 innings.