UPDATE: Top prospect Anthony Rizzo gets MRI on thumb, scratched from lineup

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8: 45 p.m. EDT: Well, this isn’t so encouraging.  Rizzo was scratched from Tucson’s lineup tonight.  He’s expected to have his thumb evaluated in San Diego on Wednesday.

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The Padres are holding off on that Anthony Rizzo callup for now after the Triple-A Tucson first baseman underwent an MRI on his left thumb Tuesday.

While pretty much everyone wants to see Rizzo in a Padres uniform, the team is going the smart route in making sure his thumb is sound.  The last thing they want to do is call him up and see him go on the DL shortly afterwards, allowing him to accumulate major league service time when he isn’t even playing.

Rizzo, who missed two games with the thumb injury last week, is in the Tucson lineup tonight.  He homered Friday in his first game back, and he’s hitting .365/.444/.715 with 16 homers and 63 RBI for the season.

San Diego-based AP writer Bernie Wilson tweeted tonight that ballpark chatter has Rizzo debuting within the next few days.  The Padres started Brad Hawpe in right field on Monday in preparation for Rizzo’s arrival.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.