Pirates interested in Rick Ankiel, Hank Blalock

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Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates have “made contact with” free agents Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock, both of whom would fit the team’s apparent plan to pursue players looking to “revive their careers.”
Kovacevic notes that the Pirates could bring in a free agent like Ankiel or Blalock on a short-term contract and then, depending on whether or not the team is in contention, either hang onto the player or use him as trade bait while clearing room for a prospect like Jose Tabata.
Garrett Jones will start somewhere after his huge rookie season. He’d likely play right field if Blalock is brought in to play first base, but could also play first base is Ankiel is signed to play right field. The latter strikes me as a far more intriguing option, because Jones’ glove is lacking and an outfield with Lastings Milledge in left, Andrew McCutchen in center, and Ankiel in right would be among baseball’s best defensively.

Eric Thames exits game with right knee soreness

Eric Thames
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Brewers outfielder Eric Thames made an early exit from Friday’s game against the Cardinals after colliding with Lorenzo Cain on an outfield catch in the first inning. According to an official report, he has been diagnosed with right knee soreness and is presumably day-to-day for the time being.

It was a brutal collision knocked both outfielders flat on their backs, but they were able to resume their positions and stick it out for the rest of the inning. Thames was up in the second, too, and struck out on five pitches from St. Louis right-hander Jack Flaherty before making an eventual exit in the top of the third. He was replaced on the field and in the lineup by Hernan Perez.

Entering Friday’s contest, the 31-year-old Thames carried a .230/.308/.516 batting line, 16 home runs and an .824 OPS in his second full season with the Brewers. He hasn’t replicated the career-high .247-average, 31-homer, 2.1-fWAR totals of his breakout performance in 2017, though that’s likely due to a combination of decreased playing time and lengthy recovery periods mandated by several significant injuries, including a torn UCL in his left thumb and a right hamstring strain. There’s no word yet on when he might return to the lineup this season.