Orioles sign Heath Bell to a minor league deal

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Orioles have signed reliever Heath Bell to a minor league deal, and MASN’s Roch Kubatko confirms the deal. Yesterday, D.J. Short mentioned that the Orioles were one of the four teams expected to land the right-hander.

Bell, 36, was released by the Rays on Sunday, about a week after he had allowed three runs in an inning of work against the Yankees. Bell had struggled for them all season long, however, posting a 7.27 ERA with a 12/8 K/BB ratio in 17 1/3 innings.

The Orioles have had some issues at the back of the bullpen, as closer Tommy Hunter has a 6.60 ERA and three blown saves despite leading the league in converted saves with 11.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.