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Right hand tendinitis could keep Kyle Hendricks out until the second half

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Kyle Hendricks might not return before the All-Star break, the Cubs’ right-hander told reporters on Saturday. Earlier this month, Hendricks was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right hand, and underwent several MRIs this weekend that confirmed a mild strain in his middle finger. The injury isn’t severe, nor is it expected to keep Hendricks sidelined on a long-term basis, but the Cubs are playing it safe with their starter until he can work his way back to full strength.

Per Hendricks’ comments, the strain still produces a sharp pain in his middle finger when he grips the ball, preventing him from executing any pitch effectively for the time being. Prior to his setback, he went 4-3 in 11 starts, pitching to a 4.09 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 61 2/3 innings. It’s a steep drop-off from his 2.13 ERA in 2016, one that put him in the running for both NL Cy Young and MVP consideration.

A timetable has yet to be set for Hendricks’ return to the roster, and he’ll need at least one minor league rehab start before he’s cleared to reclaim his spot on the pitching staff. In his absence, the Cubs will continue to look to left-hander Mike Montgomery to handle the back end of the rotation. Montgomery earned two no-decisions in his first two starts of the year, issuing five runs on nine hits and four walks and striking out nine of 41 batters over nine innings.

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.