Nationals release pitcher-turned-position player Micah Owings

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Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that the Nationals have granted Micah Owings his release after he opted out of his minor league contract with the club.

After posting a 4.86 ERA over six seasons between the Diamondbacks, Reds, and Padres, Owings made the switch from pitcher to full-time position player this season. The 30-year-old was batting .265/.305/.480 with eight home runs, 31 RBI and a 71/10 K/BB ratio over 213 plate appearances with the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate. He made 30 starts in left field, two in right field and 21 out of the designated hitter spot.

Owings was already considered a good hitting pitcher and the pop he has displayed in the minors is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but that plate discipline isn’t pretty. While it sounds like he could have a lead on a promising situation elsewhere, one wonders if he would be more interesting to a major league club if he still pitched a little.

Video: Aaron Judge mashes his first career grand slam

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It was only a matter of time before rookie sensation Aaron Judge clubbed his first grand slam. The Yankees’ power-hitting outfielder went deep in the third inning of Sunday’s series finale against the Athletics, clearing the bases with his 16th home run of the season and first career grand slam.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 378 feet into the right field bleachers, Judge’s second-shortest home run to date. It also marked his first homer since May 20 and sixth in the past month. Entering Sunday’s game, the 22-year-old outfielder is batting .316/.421/.665 with a league-leading 36 hits in 183 PA.

The blast padded the Yankees’ lead in the third inning, giving them a three-run edge over the A’s as Michael Pineda looked for his sixth win of the year. They currently lead 7-3 in the bottom of the seventh.

Astros place Charlie Morton on disabled list with strained lat

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The Astros placed right-hander Charlie Morton on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right lat muscle, the team announced on Sunday. The move is retroactive to May 25, when Morton reported feeling some soreness after his start against the Tigers last Wednesday. He’ll be shut down from throwing for a week and will concede his roster spot to right-handed reliever Jordan Jankowski for the time being. The team has yet to announce a specific timetable for his return to the mound.

Morton, 33, shouldered a 4.06 ERA through his first 10 starts of the season. His 3.6 BB/9 and 10.1 SO/9 were accompanied by a significant uptick in velocity, averaging a career-best 96 m.p.h. on his fastball in recent outings. This is the righty’s first disabled list stint since 2016, when he missed all but four games of the season with a torn hamstring.

Without Morton, fellow right-hander Mike Fiers is expected to retain his place in the rotation. He was reportedly in line for a demotion to the bullpen after producing an abysmal 5.21 ERA through his first 46 2/3 innings of the season. Brad Peacock, who made a spotless spot start for for the Astros last Monday, will fill out the rotation during Morton’s DL stint.