Ryan Braun leaves game with strained intercostal muscle

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Ryan Braun left this afternoon’s game against the Diamondbacks after the top of the first inning due to a strained left intercostal muscle, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.

The team has him listed as day-to-day right now, but there’s some reason for concern here. Braun has suffered intercostal injuries multiple times in the past, including one that carried into the 2009 season. There’s nothing to suggest that today’s injury will impact his availability for Opening Day, but look for the Brewers to take every precaution here.

Braun batted .304/.366/.501 with 25 homers, 103 RBI, 14 stolen bases and an .866 OPS last season. He is often overlooked in the conversation about the game’s best sluggers, likely by virtue of where he plays, but the 27-year-old outfielder has compiled 128 home runs over his first four seasons, eighth-highest in major league history. As you can see below, the company is pretty impressive.

1. Ralph Kiner – 168

2. Albert Pujols – 160

3. Eddie Matthews – 153

4. Mark Teixeira – 140

5. Joe DiMaggio – 137

6. Frank Robinson – 134

7. Ryan Howard – 129

8. Ryan Braun – 128

9. Ted Williams – 127

10. Chuck Klein – 125

(Hat-tip to the irreplaceable Baseball Reference)

Astros release Jon Singleton

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The Astros have released first baseman Jon Singleton, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Singleton, 26, was suspended for 100 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse for a third time. He has had issues with marijuana in the post and admitted to being a drug addict several years ago. He said, “At this point it’s pretty evident to me that I’m a drug addict. I don’t openly tell everyone that, but it’s pretty apparent to myself. I know that I enjoy smoking weed, I enjoy being high and I can’t block that out of my mind that I enjoy that. So I have to work against that.”

Singleton played parts of two seasons in the majors in 2014-15 with the Astros, batting a combined .171/.290/.331 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in — appropriately — 420 plate appearances. He spent 2016 with Triple-A Fresno and 2017 with Double-A Corpus Christi, putting up middling numbers.

If he can convince teams he’s still actively working to overcome his addiction, Singleton may be able to find an opportunity elsewhere. But his road back to the majors remains long. He was once a top prospect in the Phillies’ system, then was traded to the Astros in the Hunter Pence deal back in July 2011.