Maybe we shouldn’t look too far ahead since the Braves are still fighting to hang on in the Wild Card race, but the odds of Tommy Hanson being ready in time for the postseason are at least looking better.
From David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution comes word that Hanson threw two simulated innings earlier today at the team’s instructional league in Orlando. He is slated to throw three or four innings or a maximum of 65 pitches in another instructional league start on Friday.
If all goes well, Hanson could start the Braves’ regular season finale against the Phillies on September 28. Of course, things could change if the Braves haven’t wrapped up the Wild Card. If the season goes down to the final day, Tim Hudson would start on his scheduled turn.
While Hanson is still in the mix for the first round of the playoffs, things aren’t looking nearly as positive for Jair Jurrjens. He was able to throw 40 pitches in a bullpen session earlier today at Sun Life Stadium in Florida, but O’Brien writes that he probably won’t be an option unless the Braves advance to the NLCS.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.
Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.
Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.
Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.