Ian Desmond takes his brother-in-law deep

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It’s going to be an awkward 4th of July barbecue next week: Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond homered off brother-in-law Josh Roenicke in the game against the Rockies on Thursday.

The two had never faced each other before this week, but they’ve done so twice during the four-game series, with Desmond winning both battles. The red-hot Desmond tripled off Roenicke back on Monday.

Both Desmond and Roenicke are having nice seasons. Desmond is second among major league shortstops with 13 homers and first with 36 extra-base hits. Roenicke entered the day 3-0 with a 2.64 ERA in 44 1/3 innings out of the pen for Colorado, though it looks like he might end up with the loss in this one.

As for their relationship, Roenicke is married to Desmond’s sister. According to MLB.com, Josh and Nikki met in Florida in 2006 while Josh was in spring training with the Reds. They married in 2010.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.