Eric O’Flaherty has torn ulnar collateral ligament in elbow, Tommy John surgery next?

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UPDATE: It looks like Eric O’Flaherty is facing the worst-case scenario, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. He’ll see Dr. James Andrews next week, but it would be a surprise if Tommy John surgery wasn’t the next step. The Braves’ bullpen suddenly looks quite vulnerable.

5:10 PM: The Braves’ bullpen took another hit this afternoon, as left-hander Eric O’Flaherty was placed on the disabled list with a strained left elbow. No word yet on the severity of the injury, but we should know more following an MRI.

As our own Drew Silva notes, O’Flaherty will join Jonny Venters, Jordan Walden, Luis Ayala and Cristhian Martinez on the disabled list. Venters is done for the season after Tommy John surgery while Walden was just placed on the disabled list yesterday. Meanwhile, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that neither Ayala nor Martinez are close to returning. Craig Kimbrel better invest in some bubble wrap and/or body armor.

Like Venters, O’Flaherty has been a trusted workhorse for the Braves for a few years now, posting a 1.95 ERA in 295 appearances dating back to 2009. Only Brad Ziegler, Carlos Marmol, and Luke Gregerson have appeared in more games in the same timespan.

The Braves have called up right-hander Cory Rasmus to replace O’Flaherty on the active roster. Colby’s brother has a 3.67 ERA over parts of seven seasons in the minors, including a 0.93 ERA and 21/9 K/BB ratio over 19 1/3 innings with Triple-A Gwinnett this season.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.