Jorge Posada is catching Gio Gonzalez’s bullpen sessions

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Like most pitchers, Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez has been throwing regular offseason bullpen sessions to stay sharp. Unlike most pitchers, Gonzalez has enlisted one of the best catchers in baseball history, Jorge Posada, to be behind the plate for those sessions.

Gonzalez and Posada meet up at the University of Miami baseball field on Tuesdays and Gonzalez described throwing to Posada as “a childhood dream.”

Here’s more from Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com:

Gonzalez and Posada are represented by the same agency, but they met for the first time by chance earlier this winter when working out at the gym. The two made some small-talk and got to know each other a little bit, and then Posada inquired about Gonzalez’s throwing program as he gears up for spring training.

“I remember he asked me, ‘When are you throwing a bullpen?'” Gonzalez said. “And I said, ‘Well, I don’t have a guy to catch me, but I’ll find one.’ And he goes, ‘Well, I’d be more than happy to catch you.'”

“I thought he was going to say, ‘Oh, I’d love to go see (you throw).’ And he said, ‘No, I’d be happy to catch you.’ I stepped back and I was like, ‘No. Are you serious right now? You messing with me? Because this is for real, I would love for this to happen.’ So he shows up one day with no mask or anything. Just a glove.”

Pretty cool, although the 42-year-old Posada’s knees may feel differently.

Felix Hernandez will miss 3-4 weeks with shoulder bursitis

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Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.

It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.

Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.