Dan Haren finally admits to back injury after latest clunker

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Dan Haren looked like his usual self through the first two months of the season, throwing 72 innings with a 3.52 ERA and 66/14 K/BB ratio.

Then the calendar flipped to June and he fell apart, allowing 29 runs in 32 innings–including nine homers–spread over six starts. The latest ugly outing came last night, as Haren surrendered seven runs while failing to make it out of the fifth inning against the Indians.

Afterward he finally admitted that the back problems that he managed to pitch through earlier this season are once again an issue and obviously have rendered him ineffective this time around:

It’s just a matter of getting a hold of it because I’m not helping the team right now going out there and pitching the way I am. I’ve tried to suck it up a little bit and do my best out there, but first and foremost is the team. Am I helping the team or hurting the team going out there? So, we’ll go from there.

Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that Haren will be examined by team doctors tomorrow and could be headed to the disabled list. That would be a first for Haren, who amazingly has never been on the DL in 10 seasons as a big leaguer and in fact has never even missed a start while topping 200 innings every year since 2005.

Astros officially announce the Michael Brantley signing

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The Astros officially announced their signing of outfielder Michael Brantley to a two-year, $32 million deal.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

As previously reported, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Brantley.