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Nationals place Jonathan Papelbon on the disabled list with an intercostal strain

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If it seemed odd that Nationals manager Dusty Baker used Shawn Kelley to close out Monday’s 4-1 victory against the Cubs instead of Jonathan Papelbon, there was a reason. Papelbon was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with a strained intercostal, the club announced. The Nationals reinstated reliever Matt Belisle from the disabled list.

Papelbon struggled in his most recent appearance against the Phillies on Sunday, giving up a leadoff home run to Maikel Franco to break a 3-3 tie. However, the Nationals were able to storm for two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off win.

Thus far, Papelbon has been solid but not his usual elite self. He has registered the save in 16 of 18 attempts with a 3.28 ERA and a 19/8 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings. The 35-year-old currently holds what would be a career-low strikeout rate (18.6%) if the season were to end today. His 7.8 percent walk rate would be his highest since 2010.

The Nationals have been linked in trade rumors to the Yankees, who could make Aroldis Chapman and/or Andrew Miller available. Kelley should be reliable in the short-term, though, as he owns a 2.70 ERA with a dynamite 34/5 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings this season.

Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt on plate after home run

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Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.

“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”

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