Diamondbacks may shift longtime second baseman Aaron Hill to third base

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Aaron Hill has played exclusively second base since 2007 and has logged nearly 10,000 career innings at the position, but it sounds like the Diamondbacks are preparing to move him across the diamond.

Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks want use 24-year-old Didi Gregorius and 22-year-old Chris Owings as their new double-play duo in preparation for next season and beyond.

And because Hill is 32 years old, has struggled this season, and is owed $24 million for the next two seasons they can’t simply part ways with him, so moving him to third base is the easiest solution. For his part Hill seems fine with the move, saying:

It’s just the way it is when you’re trying to see what we’re going to do next year, and if I’m a part of that–I’m hoping so–whether it’s keeping the young guys, trading whoever, that’s just the big picture and I understand that. I told them I get it.

In the past Hill has shown the type of power most teams look for at third base and since joining the Diamondbacks in mid-2011 he’s hit a combined .283 with an .800 OPS in 394 games, which would certainly look just fine at third base. However, this season he’s hit just .243 with 10 homers and a .651 OPS in 118 games and he last saw game action at third base as a rookie for the Blue Jays in 2005. Plus, the Diamondbacks have a pretty good third base prospect in 23-year-old Jake Lamb.

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Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.