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.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.