Mariners call up Justin Smoak, place Michael Saunders on the disabled list

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Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders is headed back to the disabled list. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that Saunders has been diagnosed with an oblique injury, which he suffered on a check-swing in the eighth inning of Thursday’s game against the Twins. Saunders was previously on the disabled list between June 11-27 due to inflammation of the A/C joint in his right shoulder.

Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that it’s a Grade 2 oblique strain. According to manager Lloyd McClendon, “it’s going to be a while” before Saunders can get back on the field. Saunders had been performing well for the Mariners prior to his bout with the injury bug. In 219 plate appearances, he slashed .276/.327/.434 with six home runs and 28 RBI.

In a related move, the Mariners have called up Justin Smoak from Triple-A Tacoma. Smoak went on the disabled list on June 10 with a strained left quad and was optioned to Tacoma on July 4 after having rehabbed for two weeks there. In 19 games at Triple-A, Smoak hit three home runs with an .824 OPS in 74 plate appearances.

Smoak struggled at the big league level, slashing .208/.282/.361 with seven home runs and 28 RBI over 241 plate appearances.

Francisco Cervelli shines in his Braves debut

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Last week the Pittsburgh Pirates released Francisco Cervelli. Yesterday he was signed by the Braves. Atlanta gave him the start behind the plate and he went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three runs driven in to help his new team to victory over the Mets. Welcome to Atlanta, Frankie.

Cervelli had been rehabbing from a concussion and hadn’t seen big league action since late May. He was ready to come back, though, and the Pirates — who are going nowhere — gave him his release so that he might join a contender for the stretch run.

The performance he put up last night, obviously will not be the norm for him going forward. But it’s also the case that his early 2019 batting line of .193/.279/.248 is not indicative of his talent level either. He posted an .809 OPS (122 OPS+) in 2018, and if he gives Atlanta anything even approaching his usual production it’ll help stabilize a shaky catching situation for the Braves.