Braves activate Jordan Walden, send Alex Wood to Triple-A to prep as a starter

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Alex Wood has split his first two seasons between the Braves’ bullpen and rotation, making 18 starts and 31 relief appearances. And he’s been very good, posting a 3.26 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 138 innings overall.

Which is why today’s move to demote him to Triple-A looks surprising, but Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that it’s likely being done as part of a plan to stretch the 23-year-old left-hander out to return to Atlanta as a full-time starter.

Wood hasn’t started a game since May 4 and has thrown more than 40 pitches just once during that bullpen-only period, and the Braves decided this was the easiest way to get him ready to throw 90-100 pitches on a regular basis again.

In a corresponding move the Braves activated reliever Jordan Walden from the disabled list, where he spent a month with a strained hamstring.

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.