Ron Washington and Tony La Russa name their All-Star Game coaching staffs

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Because the All-Star Game counts, tough strategic planning is required and that in turn requires an all-star caliber coaching staff to make the tough calls.

Hahaha, just kidding. The only thing more rare than baseball strategy in the MLB All-Star Game is defense in the NBA All-Star Game and contact in the Pro Bowl.

But the teams need coaches all the same, if for no other reason to give the managers someone their own age to talk to. And today AL manager Ron Washington and NL manager Tony La Russa announced their staffs.

La Russa has named Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and Mets manager Terry Collins as his official N.L. coaches.  He has filled out the rest of his staff with, basically, the entire staff of the 2011 Cardinals: Dave Duncan will be the pitching coach, Derek Lilliquist will be the bullpen coach, Mark McGwire is the hitting coach, Dave McKay and Jose Oquendo will be base coaches and Joe Pettini will be the bench coach. Trainers will be Paul Lessard of the Cincinnati Reds and Jim Lovell of the Braves.

In the AL, Ron Washington will have Ned Yost and Bob Melvin has his official coaches, with Rangers coaches – Dave Anderson, Scott Coolbaugh, Andy Hawkins, Mike Maddux, Jackie Moore and Gary Pettis on staff. Trainers will be Nick Kenney of the Royals, and Lonnie Soloff of the Cleveland Indians.

I’m most looking forward to the first La Russa-Lilliquist call to the bullpen.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.