Twins place Josh Willingham on DL, activate Aaron Hicks

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After watching Josh Willingham struggle through a left knee injury for three weeks the Twins finally placed him on the disabled list with a medial meniscus tear and bone bruise. To replace him on the roster Minnesota activated Aaron Hicks, who’s been on the DL for three weeks with a hamstring injury.

Hicks has been rehabbing at Triple-A and hit just .190 in six games there, but Willingham’s injury convinced the Twins to rush him back. Before the hamstring injury Hicks was one of the worst hitters in baseball, batting .179 with 56 strikeouts and a .575 OPS in 55 games as a 23-year-old rookie. He’ll presumably resume starting in center field, with fill-in center fielder Clete Thomas seeing action in a corner spot.

As for Willingham, after a career-year last season at age 33 he’s been banged up while losing nearly 150 points off his OPS. Whatever chance the Twins had of trading him for any kind of decent value this month is long gone and Willingham is signed for $7 million next season.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.