Stephen Drew aggravates oblique injury, could be headed for MRI

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Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew is out of the lineup for the fourth straight game tonight after he aggravated his right oblique injury during batting practice on Wednesday. According to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, Drew could be sent for an MRI tomorrow if he’s still dealing with discomfort.

“He’s frustrated by it,” manager John Farrell said. “At the same time, we can’t risk any longer-term situation here.”

Drew signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Red Sox late last month and played seven tune-up games in the minors before making his season debut last Monday. The 31-year-old was showing signs of rust prior to the oblique injury, going just 1-for-14 with five strikeouts. These type of injuries are notoriously tricky, so it wouldn’t be surprising if a trip to the disabled list is next.

Jonathan Herrera has been filling in at shortstop this week, but he hasn’t done much at the plate. It will be interesting to see if Xander Bogaerts slides back over to shortstop if Drew’s injury requires a lengthy absence, as it would give the Red Sox another way to get Brock Holt into the lineup. With Shane Victorino set to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Saturday, they could use the extra flexibility.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.