Michael Morse struggling since returning from finger injury

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Michael Morse got off to a huge start for the Mariners, hitting .293 with six homers in his first 10 games, but then he fractured his right pinkie finger and has struggled since returning.

Morse sat out just four days with the injury, but is 6-for-37 (.162) with zero homers and 12 strikeouts in nine games since rejoining the lineup.

Asked whether the injury was to blame for the slump, Morse admitted to Doug Miller of MLB.com that he’s not fully recovered yet but also said: “It’s not an excuse or anything. I’m not producing because of me, not my finger. I don’t look for excuses.”

Players have slumps all the time that aren’t related to injuries, of course, but if Morse says he’s not fully healthy it’s fairly natural to connect the dots. Fans and media members love to praise athletes for playing through injuries, but it’s not always so obvious that it’s a good thing for the team.

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.