Ian Desmond returns ahead of schedule from torn oblique

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Out since mid-July with a torn oblique muscle, Ian Desmond is off the disabled list and back in the Nationals’ lineup well ahead of schedule.

Desmond was having a breakout season before the injury, hitting .286 with 17 homers and an .825 OPS in 89 games while making his first All-Star team. In his absence manager Davey Johnson shifted Danny Espinosa from second base to shortstop and used Stephen Lombardozzi as the everyday second baseman.

To make room for Desmond’s return Washington designated veteran infielder Cesar Izturis for assignment.

Report: Mariners sign Juan Nicasio to a two-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mariners have signed pitcher Juan Nicasio to a two-year contract, pending a physical.

Nicasio, 31, spent last season with the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals, putting up an aggregate 2.61 ERA with a 72/20 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 innings. He appeared in 76 games, leading the National League.

Nicasio will help bolster the Mariners’ bullpen behind closer Edwin Diaz. It’s not known exactly what role he’ll have but it seems reasonable to assume he’ll handle mostly the seventh inning while Nick Vincent will set up for Diaz. Nicasio does have plenty of starting experience so he could also spot start in a pinch.