The Rangers sign J.R. Towles from independent ball

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J.R. Towels was a backup catcher for the Astros for a few years, with his last big league action coming in 2011. He was stuck in the minors for 2012 and 2013 went off baseball’s grid and into independent ball this season, where he’s played for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League. He’s heading back to affiliated ball now, however, as the team announced that his contract was purchased by the Texas Rangers. He will report to Triple-A Round Rock.

Towles played in 67 games for the Bluefish in 2014, hitting 11 home runs with 37 RBI and holding a .292 batting average. He was also named to the Atlantic League All-Star team.

Guys often head down to the independents for chances like this. They don’t come too often. Good to see someone making the move back to affiliated ball like Towels is.

Dominic Smith dealing with a strained right quad

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Mets first baseman Dominic Smith is dealing with a strained right quad and is set to undergo an MRI on Monday, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports.

Smith, 22, did not play in the Mets’ first Grapefruit League game after showing up late. He played on Saturday, scoring two runs on a single and a hit-by-pitch in two plate appearances. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup.

The Mets signed Adrian Gonzalez during the offseason, which makes him the front runner for the starting job at first base. Smith needs to have a strong spring showing to make the 25-man roster but so far, it hasn’t gone well.

Smith made his major league debut in August last year and ended up playing in 49 games. He struggled to a .198/.262/.395 slash line with nine home runs and 26 RBI in 183 plate appearances.