D’Backs find a first baseman, sign Russell Branyan

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From SI.com’s Jon Heyman comes word that the Diamondbacks have reached agreement on a minor league contract with Russell Branyan.

The deal also carries an invitation to spring training, where Branyan will have the opportunity to put a claim on Arizona’s starting first base gig.

Juan Miranda and Brandon Allen had been ticketed for the job, but those two lack experience and proven power potential. Branyan collected 25 home runs between stays with the Mariners and Indians last season and is plenty capable of posting a higher total this year while playing half of his games at the Diamondbacks’ power-friendly Chase Field.

Allen will probably be shipped to Triple-A once camp breaks, unless the Diamondbacks can find a quick trade partner. Miranda is out of minor league options and will likely remain on board as a backup.

Andrelton Simmons, Shohei Ohtani both injured in Angels’ loss

Associated Press
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The loss of a close, well-pitched game is hard enough for any team to take, but when you lose two key players to injury in the process it’s gotta be damn nigh intolerable. That’s what happened to the Angels last night in their 3-1 loss to Minnesota, losing Andrelton Simmons and Shohei Ohtani. And it happened on consecutive plays in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Simmons is likely to be gone for an extended period after suffering a sprained ankle which was later deemed “severe”. Indeed, they weren’t sure it wasn’t broken until the X-rays came back negative. He sustained the injury running to first base, trying to beat out an infield hit. He came down on the ankle and it twisted in ugly fashion — there are Gifs of it on Twitter and stuff, but you don’t wanna see them — before tumbling over the bag to the ground. Simmons will have an MRI today to see how bad things really are.

Ohtani got off more easily, getting hit in the right ring finger with a pitch while striking out. His X-rays were also negative, but they will reassess him today.

Simmons is hitting .298/.323/.415 on the year while playing his usual spectacular defense. Ohtani, who just came back from Tommy John surgery as a hitter a couple of weeks ago, is hitting .250/.345/.375.