Alex Rodriguez takes batting practice for first time since hand fracture

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The Yankees will be without Mark Teixeira for a little while due to a Grade 1 strain of his left calf, but it’s not all bad news on the injury front.

According to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York, Alex Rodriguez took batting practice earlier today for the first time since fracturing his left hand last month. He also ran the bases and fielded grounders. The plan calls for him to go through a similar workout tomorrow.

“So far, so good,” Rodriguez said. “My legs are coming under me, and I see light at the end of the tunnel. My expectation is to come back at full strength and help this team win.”

Rodriguez still has some hurdles to cross, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on “The Michael Kay Show” this afternoon that the veteran third baseman could begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend if all goes well. The regular season ends for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton on Monday, but both teams are headed for the postseason, so Rodriguez will have the chance to get additional at-bats. The hope is that he could be back before mid-September.

Rodriguez, who turned 37 last month, is hitting .276/.358/.449 with 15 home runs, 44 RBI, 11 stolen bases and an .806 OPS in 94 games played this season.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.