Rays “remain interested in” re-signing Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman

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Last offseason the Rays signed Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman to one-year deals and got good value out of both players, but rather than simply let them walk as free agents Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Tribune writes that they “remain interested in” re-signing both hitters.

“They are very prominent in our discussions right now as we’re going through things,” executive vice president Andrew Friedman told Smith. “I expect that will continue.”

Most likely the Rays will only be interested in re-signing Damon and Kotchman if the market for them is weak enough to create another bargain situation.

Damon hit .261 with a .743 OPS in 150 games, which is hardly top notch production from a corner outfielder/designated hitter, and at age 38 even maintaining that performance will be tough. Kotchman was much better, hitting .306 with an .800 OPS, but prior to signing with the Rays he’d been terrible for three straight seasons.

Dallas Keuchel to return to Astros’ rotation on Friday

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Astros manager A.J. Hinch told the media, including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, that starter Dallas Keuchel will come off of the disabled list and rejoin the rotation on Friday against the Tigers. Keuchel has missed nearly two months with a neck injury.

Prior to landing on the DL, Keuchel was 9-0 with a 1.67 ERA and a 69/18 K/BB ratio over 75 2/3 innings. He seemed to be on his way to potentially win another Cy Young Award.

Hinch also noted that Collin McHugh will start on Saturday and Lance McCullers will start on Sunday.

Video: Ketel Marte hits an inside-the-park home run

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Braves starter Aaron Blair had a nightmarish bottom of the third inning on Wednesday afternoon against the Diamondbacks. He had just given up a run on a Daniel Descalso triple hit to center field that center fielder Ender Inciarte read poorly. In the following at-bat, Ketel Marte laced a curve ball to right field. Sean Rodriguez wasn’t able to get to it in time, so the ball bounced off the fence and caromed back towards the stands along the right field line. By the time Rodriguez was able to retrieve the ball, Marte was already on his way home and scored standing up.

The inside-the-park homer will certainly provide a boost to Marte’s stats. He entered Wednesday’s action batting .196/.255/.370 in 51 plate appearances.