Carlos Beltran back in Cardinals’ starting lineup tonight

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After sitting out this week due to soreness in his surgically-repaired right knee and plantar fasciitis in his right foot, Carlos Beltran is back in the Cardinals’ starting lineup tonight against the Dodgers.

Beltran hasn’t started since Sunday, but his return appeared imminent after he was healthy enough to pinch-hit during yesterday’s game.

Beltran is off to a fantastic start this season with his new club, batting .293/.404/.642 with 13 homers, 32 RBI and a 1.046 OPS over 146 plate appearances. Even with his recent four-game absence, the 34-year-old outfielder ranks first in the National League in homers and second in RBI.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.