Kris Medlen going for second opinion after MRI shows ligament damage

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Braves right-hander Kris Medlen will seek a second opinion after an MRI exam on his sore elbow showed “some involvement of the ligament.” In other words: Not good.

Medlen exited Sunday’s game after grabbing his elbow following one pitch and then short-hopping his next pitch to the plate, making his way into the Braves’ dugout. It looked ugly at the time, especially considering Medlen has already come back from one Tommy John elbow surgery, but the initial diagnosis was a forearm strain.

Brandon Beachy is also hurting, leading to some speculation that the Braves could make a late run at free agent Ervin Santana to help boost their banged-up starting rotation. For now, though, the Braves are saying publicly that they hope Beachy’s injury isn’t serious. And they’ll hold their breath holding for some not-horrible news on Medlen.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?