Ryan Howard to miss rest of season with broken toe

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Ryan Howard’s season ended last year when he was getting out of the batter’s box, but this year it ended in the on-deck circle.

According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Howard will miss the rest of the season due to a broken big right toe. Howard suffered the injury Thursday when he dropped the lead pipe he uses as a warm-up bat in the on-deck circle on his foot. Seriously. The fracture was confirmed with an X-ray yesterday in Miami.

This is a fitting end to a disappointing season for Howard, who didn’t make his season debut until July 6 after Achilles tendon surgery. He ended up batting just .219/.295/.423 with 14 home runs, 56 RBI and a .718 OPS in 292 plate appearances, including an ugly .604 OPS and 45/5 K/BB ratio in 106 plate appearances against southpaws.

Chances are Howard will see some improvement with a full offseason to get back into shape, but he turns 33 in November and is still owed $20 million next season, $25 million from 2014-2016 and a $10 million buyout on his $23 million club option for 2017. This is one of those contracts where you keep looking back at it to see if it’s as bad as you originally thought. Yep, still bad.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.