Michael Saunders departs game after slamming into wall, diagnosed with shoulder sprain

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Michael Saunders crashed almost head-on into the outfield wall on Wednesday night at Safeco Field while running down a Jose Altuve warning-track fly. He laid on the ground for several minutes before eventually walking off the field with his right arm hanging limply at his side. It looked like a right shoulder injury — one that might be pretty serious.

Saunders entered Wednesday’s game against the Astros hitting .286/.333/.500 with one home run, five RBI and three stolen bases through 34 plate appearances. The injury happened in the top of the first inning, so he neither damaged nor improved that stat line.

Saunders showed major signs of promise with the Mariners in 2012, tallying 19 home runs, 21 stolen bases and 57 RBI in 139 games. It’s going to really hurt if he’s out for a significant period of time.

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UPDATE, 11:10 PM ET: Larry Stone of the Seattle Times reports that Saunders has been diagnosed with a right shoulder sprain. He will be examined by the Mariners’ team physician on Thursday.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.