Braves exercise options on Brian McCann, Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm

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Atlanta has exercised its options on catcher Brian McCann, right-hander Tim Hudson, and left-hander Paul Maholm, bringing all three players back for 2013 at a combined cost of $27.5 million.

McCann faded badly in the second half and was benched in the Wild Card playoff game, but it would have been tough for the Braves to justify cutting loose a 28-year-old six-time All-Star over $12 million.

Hudson at $9 million and Maholm at $6.5 million were no-brainers, and the Braves acquired Maholm from the Cubs with the idea that he’d be around for more than just a few months.

Hudson is 37 years old, but has thrown 665 innings with a 3.22 ERA since returning from Tommy John elbow surgery in mid-2009, including a 3.62 ERA in 179 innings this year. Maholm posted a 3.54 ERA in 11 starts for the Braves after coming over in a July 30 deal for Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino.

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.