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story.lead_photo.caption Former Arkansas Razorbacks outfielder Andrew Benintendi

FUTURES GAME

Benintendi, Stanek invited

Former Arkansas Razorbacks pitcher Ryne Stanek
Stephen Strasburg

Former Arkansas Razorbacks outfielder Andrew Benintendi and former Razorbacks pitcher Ryne Stanek were invited Tuesday to play for the U.S. team in the MLB Futures Game during All-Star weekend in San Diego.

Benintendi, the 2015 Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award winner, is batting .302 through Monday’s games with 23 doubles, 8 triples, 4 home runs and 54 RBI and 12 stolen bases. His eight triples are tied for the fourth most in all of minor league baseball. He began the season with the High-A Salem (Va.) Red Sox, but he was promoted to the Class AA Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs on May 16.

“Very excited for the opportunity to take part in the 2016 @MLB All-Star #FuturesGame as a member of #TeamUSA!” Benintendi tweeted Tuesday.

Stanek began the season for the Montgomery Biscuits (AA Rays) as a starter, but has been used out of the bullpen lately. He has a 1-6 record with 2 saves and a 3.91 ERA in 17 games, including 11 starts, this season. Stanek pitched three shutout innings of relief Monday to get the save as Montgomery defeated the Biloxi Shuckers (AA Brewers) 9-2. In 76 innings this season, Stanek has allowed 36 runs — 33 earned — on 64 hits with 34 walks and 88 strikeouts. Opponents are batting .233 against him.

The All-Star Futures Game will be played at Petco Park in San Diego on July 10 and will be televised by MLB Network beginning at 6 p.m. Central.

CARDINALS

Pena returns from DL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The St. Louis Cardinals have activated catcher Brayan Pena from the disabled list and designated Eric Fryer for assignment.

Pena has been out all season after having surgery on his left knee. The veteran signed a $5 million, two-year deal to back up Yadier Molina and give the seven-time All-Star more rest.

Molina appeared in 71 of the Cardinals’ first 75 games this season.

Pena, who can also play first base, spent the past two seasons in Cincinnati. The career.260 hitter has also spent time with the Tigers and Royals after beginning his career with the Atlanta Braves.

Fryer hit .368 while driving in five runs in parts of 24 games this season.

The Cardinals announced the moves before Tuesday night’s game at Kansas City.

NATIONALS

Strasburg has back strain

WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals said an MRI Stephen Strasburg underwent Monday morning has confirmed their diagnosis that the pitcher has an upper-back strain.

Strasburg, 27, threw a bullpen session Tuesday afternoon before Washington was set to play the New York Mets. Strasburg was placed on the disabled list Sunday retroactive to June 16.

Manager Dusty Baker said the MRI made him feel better and that he prayed and knew Strasburg was going to be all right.

The right-hander was scratched from his last two starts with the back injury. Strasburg is 10-0 with a 2.90 ERA this season and signed a $175 million, seven-year contract extension in May.

With Strasburg on the DL, Washington turned to top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito to make his major league debut Tuesday against the Mets.

METS

Bone spur delays Matz’s start

WASHINGTON — New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz has a bone spur in his left elbow and will have his next start pushed back from today to Thursday.

Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson said the 25-year-old lefty will continue pitching through the bone spur because doctors have assured the team he cannot do damage to it. The decision to push him back to face the Cubs was made to give him a day of extra rest and medication.

If Matz were to undergo surgery to remove the spur, it would keep him out three months, Alderson said Tuesday.

Matz is 7-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 13 starts this season.

Logan Verrett will start in the series finale against the Washington Nationals today.

Right-hander Noah Syndergaard is also dealing with a bone spur in his pitching elbow but has less discomfort than Matz, Alderson said.

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