Yankees lose OF Aaron Hicks for 3-4 weeks

Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks is enjoying a career year with a .290/.398/.515 slash line, .913 OPS, 10 home runs and 37 RBIs.

However, he’ll have to wait three-to-four weeks to add to those numbers after suffering a right oblique injury in Sunday’s loss to the Rangers.

“I didn’t really think too much of it,” Hicks said of the pain in his side he felt in his first at-bat (via Yankees.com). “I thought I could play through it. My second at-bat, I took a swing on a base-hit up the middle, that’s when I really felt it.”

Manager Joe Girardi said Hicks’ injury may expedite the return of Jacoby Ellsbury to the lineup. Since suffering a concussion May 24 against Kansas City when he crashed into the center-field wall, Ellsbury has just eight at-bats to his name — all with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

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On average, the undrafted rookies who made their NBA debuts during the 2016-17 season are more than two years older than their drafted counterparts.

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Jeb Bush no longer interested in buying Marlins, report says

Paxton and King Felix aren’t the only two injured pitchers in Seattle. Drew Smyly was expected to be a rotation mainstay but he hasn’t pitched since spring, sitting out with a strained flexor tendon.

Jeb Bush has ended his attempt to purchase the Marlins, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified person close to the negotiations.

The former Florida governor led a group that included former Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who may still explore a bid with other investors, according to the report.

Gov. Bush has great respect for Derek Jeter, and Derek remains a great friend, the AP’s source said, though no reason was given for Bush’s decision.

With Bush out of the picture, a group led by Tagg Romney that includes Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine, among others, becomes the leading candidate to purchase the team. Romney is the son of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The winning bidder is expected to pay more than $1 billion for the MLB team that Jeffrey Loria bought for $158.5 million in 2002.

RP Kelvin Herrera
Age: 27. Status: Arbitration-eligible for last time next year, free agent after 2018
Need to know: Herrera has been an absolute rock at the back of the bullpen for the past five seasons, and he’s officially taken over as the closer after the Royals traded Wade Davis to the Cubs in the offseason. So why trade him now? Last-place teams don’t need valuable closers, mostly. And with a season-and-a-half of club control remaining, Herrera has more value as a trade chip this year than he will in the offseason or in 2018. It might hurt to ship him away, but the Royals need to learn from past mistakes and move him this year.

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MLB’s $700K helps fund Marlins’ trust for Jose Fernandez’s daughter, report says

Triple plays are rare enough in baseball. The circumstances have to be just right ’ at least two runners on and a ball hit to the right play who is in the right position at the right time.

Most triple plays involve at least three defensive players. Then there is the triple play turned Thursday by Giants prospect Rando Moreno.

The 24-year-old shortstop for the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels caught a soft line drive off the bat of Hartford Yard Goats catcher Jan Vazquez in the second inning of Richmond’s eventual 2-1 victory.

The Yard Goats had runners on first and second with nobody out and both runners were off on contact. Moreno caught the soft liner before stepping on second and then tossing to first to complete the easy triple play.

Marlins president David Samson wouldn’t comment on the insurance settlement but confirmed that the Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria made a significant contribution last weekend to Fernandez’s family.

The focus for us and Jeffrey is making sure Maritza and Penelope were taken care of in the aftermath of such an unimaginable tragedy, Samson said.

Although Fernandez, 24 at the time of his death, had $6.5 million in career earnings, his estate is facing negligence and wrongful-death lawsuits from relatives of the two passengers on Fernandez’s boat who also were killed in the accident.

It’s unclear whether the money earmarked by the Marlins for the trust would be protected from those lawsuits.

Earlier this year, Jose Fernandez’s attorney told The Herald that the pitcher’s estate does not exceed $2 million.

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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo promises to fix leaky bullpen

The Nationals’ 3-2 sweep-averting win Sunday in Atlanta was closed out on a four-out save by rookie Koda Glover, but it still shined a light on the NL East leaders’ weakest link: that bullpen.

Dusty Baker let Stephen Strasburg throw 118 pitches, the second time in four stats he’s thrown so many. That’s a hint at a lack of confidence in the bullpen.

After brief stints with the Pirates and Dodgers, Bunning returned to Philadelphia to finish out his career in 1970-71.

Bunning and his wife Mary Catherine had nine children and continued to live in Southgate, Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati, after returning from Washington.

Jim Bunning led an extraordinary life in the National Pastime and in public service, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. He was a consistent winner and workhorse pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies. Jim threw no-hitters in both leagues, pitched a perfect game on Father’s Day in 1964 and, at his retirement, had more strikeouts than any pitcher in history except Walter Johnson.

In his baseball career, Jim was proud of always taking the ball. The work ethic that made him a Hall of Famer led him to the House of Representatives and the United Stated Senate. He served the state of Kentucky for more than two decades and became the only Hall of Famer ever to serve in Congress.

On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Senator Bunning’s family, friends, constituents and the many fans who admired his career in our game.

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David Ross to dance for ’DWTS’ crown after perfect first night of season finale

Seattle was once again a trendy pick to win the AL West this spring, but they were just 8-13 after that game in Detroit and are five games under .500 (24-29) heading into Wednesday’s action. That game against the Tigers was costly in more than one way. Rookie Mitch Haniger was off to a great start to the season (.342 average, 16 RBIs, 1.042 OPS in 21 games), but he strained his oblique in that same contest and he hasn’t played since, either.

The veteran lefty had a 3.03 ERA in his five starts before landing on the DL, with only 25 hits allowed in 32 2/3 innings. The Rangers were 10-12 after his fifth start, 4.5 games behind the Astros in the division standings. They’re now one game under .500 at 26-27, but they’re also 11 games behind red-hot Houston.

The W flew Monday on Dancing With the Stars, as David Ross advanced to the second night of the two-night final.

And, wouldn’t you know it, the former Cubs catcher got there with a perfectly executed, baseball-themed freestyle dance (and dramatic reenactment of his World Series last ride).

If this dancing thing doesn’t work out, Grandpa Rossy has a future as a peanut vendor.

Team Lady and the Gramp (the team name of Ross and his dance partner, Lindsay Arnold) has been a hit from the beginning of this DWTS season ’ and now another championship is in sight for Ross. He’ll dance against free-agent NFL running back Rashad Jennings and Fifth Harmony band member Normani Kordei.

The Cubs will be playing the Giants at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night. They’re probably hoping the cell reception is really good.

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MLB trade rumors: Astros eyeing Gerrit Cole, Tony Watson?

The Houston Astros are on a mission in more ways than one this season.

Winners of nine of their last 10 after Wednesday’s win in Miami, the Astros (29-12) hold the best record in baseball as they torch the American League West. But Houston may be on the hunt for even more talent, especially for its rotation and bullpen.

According to FoxSports.com, the Astros are aggressively pursuing pitching help.

It appears Houston wants to raid the Pirates. Ace Gerrit Cole and closer Tony Watson are high on the Astros’ list, which will likely grow as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.

The report states that neither Cole nor Watson has officially been made available, but the Pirates are last in the National League Central with little hope of making a run.

Cole would be a great No. 2 behind current ace Dallas Keuchel, who has returned to his 2015 form this year after a shockingly bad 2016. Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton would likely round out Houston’s postseason rotation should they make it.

Should Cole and Watson become available, Houston certainly has the prospect power to acquire one or both. In addition to young stars already in the majors (Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman and McCullers) all of whom are likely unavailable under any circumstances, the Astros also have three of the game’s top 50 prospects, according to MLB.com.

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Cubs’ Jake Arrieta thought ’it was awesome’ to see Nationals and Giants brawl

Harper charged the mound in Monday’s game after being hit by Strickland. The two players had a history with one another, which is part of the reason why emotions were so high.

MLB officials didn’t find the fight as entertaining as Arrieta did. The league dished out a six-game suspension for Strickland and a four-game punishment for Harper.

Baseball’s reigning Most Valuable Player and a rookie contender for this year’s honors are the top vote-getters among American League players for the 2017 MLB All-Star Game.

Mike Trout (776,937) and Aaron Judge (730,438) are far and away the favorites of those who have voted online so far, according to the ballot update released Tuesday. The pair have more than twice as many votes as the outfielder who would start alongside them in Miami in July, Boston’s Mookie Betts (337,473), and easily outdistance the closest contender regardless of position, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (602,238).

While Trout is a deserving leader with his eye-popping .337/.461/.742 slash line, the Angels star is unlikely to be able to play in the July 11 game after undergoing surgery this week to repair a torn thumb ligament.

In 705 plate appearances in 2014, Trout struck out 101 times more than he walked. In 681 plate appearances in 2016, he struck out only 19 times more than he walked. Through 37 games this year, he’s struck out only six times more than he’s walked — by comparison, Trout had 47 strikeouts and 20 walks through his first 36 games in 2014.

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Nationals name rookie Koda Glover as team’s closer

A young boy attending Wednesday night’s Royals-Yankees game had to be carried from his seat by medical professionals after being struck on the head by Chris Carter’s broken bat.

Carter’s bat shattered on a fastball from Matt Strahm in the seventh inning and much of the bat hit the boy, who appeared to be age 6 or 7, per NJ.com.

The boy, who was sitting on the third-base side in box seat four rows up from the field at Yankee Stadium, appeared dazed as he held a towel to his forehead. He had to be carried from his seat in part because he attended the game walking with crutches.

Play stopped for two minutes as players looked to the seats.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo promised earlier this month that he is going to fix the leaky bullpen, which entering Thursday’s games owns the worst ERA (5.27) among relievers in MLB.

Losing games in the ninth inning has been so demoralizing, Rizzo told USA Today on Sunday. It’s certainly not the way you want to go through a season. You look at our team, and all of the great performances and great seasons we’re having, and nobody is talking about it. It’s all about the bullpen and how those guys are struggling. It gets old.

We’ve got guys that are underperforming in the bullpen, and that’s on me to take care of it.

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Minor league player hurls baseball at opponent during benches-clearing brawl

A Single-A minor-league baseball game was delayed a bit Sunday night when two teams cleared their benches in a shouting match.

The Dayton Dragons and West Michigan Whitecaps were upset at one another following a play that occurred in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Dragons’ Jose Siri slid into second base on a steal attempt and while he was on the ground, Whitecaps shortstop Daniel Pinero appeared to purposely step on his ankle.

That gamble didn’t work out so well, though, as Kansas City finished just .500. This season has been a disaster; the Royals have the worst record in the American League, at 19-27, and they’ve already been shut out an MLB-worst five times this season. It’s hard to imagine this club, as currently constructed, making a legitimate playoff run.

The time to make decisions has arrived. Problem is, I’m not sure how much they can get in return, even if they trade away all of the players who should be available. They’re not exactly selling at high points for most of these guys.

For most of the Royals on the trading block, there’s a significant disconnect between the value they brought to the franchise the past few years and the value they offer to teams looking for a playoff-push upgrade. Moore has his work cut out for him.

Let’s take a player-by-player look at Kansas City’s trade chips.

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Pirates’ Gregory Polanco carted off after collision with wall

For this mock draft — the actual draft starts June 12 — we’re going to lean heavily on the fantastic work done by the folks at Baseball America, MLB.com and ESPN.com, among others, and try to sort out how the draft could play out. Let’s get started.

This pick isn’t a sure thing. The Twins have several solid options with the top spot, but we’re going with McKay for now. He’s a two-way superstar in college, and he could be a big-league star either as a hitter or as a pitcher. Check out his numbers heading into the ACC Tournament: At the plate, he’s batting .361 with 15 homers and a 1.161 OPS, and on the mound he’s fashioned a 2.22 ERA with 116 strikeouts and 27 walks in 85 innings. Thing is, though, he’s left-handed, and teams love college left-handers who work in the low 90 mph range with polish and control.

A rough start to the season for the Pirates’ outfield took another hit Monday as cleanup hitter and right fielder Gregory Polanco was carted off the field at PNC Park after apparently injuring his right ankle in a collision with the wall.

Already without Starling Marte (PED suspension) and a poor-hitting Andrew McCutchen, Polanco was just starting to heat up for the last-place Bucs after returning from the 10-day disabled list four days prior with a hamstring strain.

Now it seems likely Polanco will miss more time after his sixth-inning collision with the right-field outfield wall along the foul line.

The Pirates have yet to officially provide an update to Polanco’s injury but according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he will only miss a few games.

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