Justin Ruggiano leaves Rays, signs with Astros

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UPDATE: One week after declining the option of remaining in the Rays’ system Ruggiano has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Astros.

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Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster housecleaning is costing Triple-A Durham its best players.

This morning the Rays traded reigning Triple-A MVP Russ Canzler to the Indians for cash considerations after designating him for assignment and his Durham teammate Justin Ruggiano chose free agency over an assignment to Triple-A.

Ruggiano has struggled in a few brief stints in the majors, hitting just .226 with six homers and a .621 OPS in 98 games spread over three seasons, but he’s consistently posted strong numbers in the minors and probably deserves a chance somewhere at age 29.

Of course, he’s also spent the past five seasons at Durham, so it’s understandable that Ruggiano would decline an assignment there and take his chances finding work in another organization. Overall at Triple-A he’s hit .289 with 68 homers and an .835 OPS in 476 games, which suggests his best role in the majors would be as a platoon corner outfielder facing primarily left-handed pitching.

Aaron Judge has a “pretty significant strain” of his oblique

Aaron Judge
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In case you missed it over the weekend, the New York Yankees suffered yet another huge blow when another huge star went on the injured list. The star: Aaron Judge, who strained his oblique during Saturday’s 9-2 win over the Royals.

Yesterday the Yankees placed him on the injured list. In so doing, Yankees manager Aaron Boone called it a “pretty significant strain in there.” The team did not offer a timeline, but Boone said they’ll monitor Judge for a couple of weeks to see where he is. Oblique strains, however, can cause a player to miss a lot of time. Four to six weeks is not unheard of for even moderate oblique strains. Guys with major strains have missed months.

Judge is the Yankees’ 13th player currently on the injured list and is the 14th Yankees player to visit it overall on the young season. Joining him there at the moment :

It’s an All-Star team’s worth of injuries. It’s such a good group of players that Ellsbury couldn’t even make the starting lineup of the all-injured team.

Though we often ignore it in season-long narratives of successful and unsuccessful teams, choosing to focus on great or poor performances, the fact of the matter is that team health is almost always a big, big factor in who wins and who loses. No one is going to cry for the Yankees here, of course, but at some point there are just too many injuries to overcome. One has to wonder if New York has reached that point yet.