Pirates could be without reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen for a month

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In a serious blow to Pittsburgh’s playoff chances, the Pirates may be without center fielder, No. 3 hitter, and reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen until September because of an oblique muscle injury.

McCutchen tweaked his oblique muscle Sunday while hitting a sacrifice fly and an unnamed source told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that it looks like a “serious” strain that could knock him out for at least 3-4 weeks.

McCutchen has once again been one of the most valuable players in the league and has actually improved upon last year’s production, hitting .311 with 17 homers, 17 steals, a league-leading 68 walks, and a .949 OPS that tops last year’s mark of .911.

He’s been extremely durable, missing a grand total of 24 games since the beginning of 2010, so the Pirates have never really had to worry about how to replace McCutchen. Assuming that Starling Marte will be cleared to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list he could shift from left field to center field, with Travis Snider manning left field.

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.