Jeremy Hellickson to begin rehab assignment Saturday

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Rays right-handed starter Jeremy Hellickson has been out of commission since having arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow in February. But if all goes smoothly from here, he could be an option for the Tampa Bay rotation by the end of this month.

Hellickson told beat writer Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune on Wednesday afternoon that he is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Saturday with the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs. Hellickson threw 50 pitches over three-plus innings Monday in his final simulated game, so he should be able to make it through about four frames in his rehab debut.

The 27-year-old owns a 3.70 ERA in 576 1/3 career innings at the major league level.

Rays pitchers have a combined 4.13 ERA on the season, which ranks 22nd in the bigs.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Tony La Russa part ways

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The Arizona Diamondbacks just announced that they are parting ways with Tony La Russa at the end of the month.

La Russa served as the club’s “Chief Baseball Officer” from 2015-16. For the last year he was styled “Chief Baseball Analyst.” That’s a nice way to saying that he was pushed aside when the club fired his hand-picked general manager Dave Stewart and brought in Mike Hazen to run the club a year ago. La Russa was stripped of his powers, but was told he could hang around as an advisor. Most didn’t think he’d actually take the club up on that offer, but he did. By all accounts he was a pretty unobtrusive presence around the team this year, offering counsel and insight when asked but not making things awkward the way having the old boss around might do.

I suppose that can only last so long, however. The Dbacks had considerably more success without La Russa in charge in 2017 than they had with him in charge the previous couple of years. At some point you just part ways. That point is now.