Nationals sign Mexican League closer Gabriel Alfaro

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In addition to re-signing Chris Young yesterday the Nationals also announced the signing of Gabriel Alfaro, a 30-year-old right-hander who’s spent the past two seasons thriving in the Mexican League.

Alfaro, who began his pro career pitching in the Blue Jays’ farm system in 2005, posted a 2.58 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 129 innings as Oaxaca’s closer during the past two seasons, saving 26 games each year.

For the Nationals there’s no real risk involved in giving him a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training and if Alfaro’s stuff translates to the majors they may have found a solid setup man.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.