Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays

Joe Saunders exits early with bruised left ankle; Rangers remain snakebitten

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In early March, the Rangers made an emergency signing of Joe Saunders to patch up their injury-ravaged rotation, having lost Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. The Rangers had another scare when Yu Darvish was forced to miss his Opening Day start due to a neck injury, though he didn’t require a stint on the disabled list. This is pitchers only, mind you, as the Rangers have also lost top prospect Jurickson Profar and catcher Geovany Soto. How much worse can it get?

Saunders was metaphorically hit hard by the Rays in his start on Friday night, allowing five runs (four earned) over 3 2/3 innings. But he was also literally hit hard, taking an Evan Longoria comebacker off of his left ankle. The Rangers removed him from the game and sent him to have X-rays taken. They turned up negative, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Saunders was officially diagnosed with a bruised left ankle.

It remains to be seen if Saunders will have to miss his next start, but you can bet the Rangers are holding their breath.

Diamondbacks hire Mike Fitzgerald to head Research and Development department

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, addresses the media during a press conference to announce his promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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According to an official announcement, the Diamondbacks have acquired former Pirates quantitative analyst Mike Fitzgerald as their new Director of Research and Development.

Fitzgerald joined the Pirates’ front office in 2012, where he frequently accompanied the team on the road to help breach the divide between analytics and the clubhouse. According to a profile written by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh in 2014, Fitzgerald’s multifaceted approach brought balance and perspective to the organization, whether he was assisting coaches in making statistically sound decisions, optimizing the batting order, weighing in on scouting and personnel decisions, developing more effective defensive positioning, or keeping players and personnel appraised of the latest developments in sabermetrics.

In the wake of Fitzgerald’s departure, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington praised the Diamondbacks for a smart acquisition and said that the club has every intention of finding a replacement analyst, albeit one who will have some big shoes to fill.

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.