Pirates activate Russell Martin, designate Wandy Rodriguez for assignment

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Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin is back off the disabled list after missing the past month with a strained hamstring and to make room for him on the roster the Pirates have designated for assignment left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has struggled to pitch through an arthritic elbow all season, posting a 6.75 ERA in six starts, and previously spent time on the disabled list. He actually pitched well in his first start back off the DL last week, but Rodriguez allowed six runs without making it out of the second inning yesterday against the Orioles to apparently convince the Pirates he wasn’t going to contribute positively any longer.

Rodriguez was acquired from the Astros in mid-2012 and pitched well for the Pirates down the stretch that season and last season, but he’s repeatedly been limited by injuries. He’s owed $13 million this year, but Houston is on the hook for the majority of that and at age 35 with free agency around the corner he wasn’t going to be part of Pittsburgh’s plans beyond this season anyway.

No, the Astros aren’t being targeted for HBPs in spring training

Alex Bregman
Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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On Wednesday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was hit by Cardinals pitcher Ramon Santos. It marked the seventh time an Astros batter had been hit in spring training exhibition games thus far, the highest total among all teams. As expected, teams are exacting revenge for the Astros’ cheating ways!

Well, not quite. The pitch Santos hit Bregman with was a 3-2 breaking ball that got away. Usually, if a pitcher is going to hit a batter as an act of revenge, he’ll attempt to do it with a first-pitch fastball.

José Altuve was also hit by a pitch against the Tigers on Sunday. The pitch, which looks to be the off-speed variety, appeared to graze his uniform as opposed to hitting him flush, so it was likely unintentional on the part of pitcher Nick Ramirez.

Other Astros to have been hit in spring training thus far: Alex De Goti, Aledmys Díaz, Osvaldo Duarte, Dustin Garneau, and Jake Meyers. Not exactly a who’s-who list of Code Breaker operatives.

Will some pitchers intentionally throw at the Astros this year? Almost certainly, despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s warning. Have they been doing it from the moment exhibition games began earlier this month? Certainly not.