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Snitker hopes for Keuchel’s return

ATLANTA — After two tune-up starts in the minor leagues by Dallas Keuchel (Arkansas Razorbacks), Atlanta Braves Manager Brian Snitker hopes to add the former American League Cy Young Award winner to the starting rotation this week.

“Hoping it’s going to be Friday,” Snitker said Monday of plans for Keuchel’s first start with the big-league Braves to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re going to kind of take it day at a time right now, but everything is pointed in that direction.”

The Braves play at Washington on Friday in the opener of a three-game series and 10-game road trip.

Keuchel, formerly with the Houston Astros, became a free agent after last season and remained unsigned until June 7, when the Braves inked him to a $13 million contract for the rest of this season. He pitched twice in the Braves’ farm system last week, throwing 77 pitches in seven innings for Class A Rome on June 10 and 106 pitches in seven innings for Class AA Mississippi five days later.

Although Keuchel, 31, a seven-year MLB veteran and the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, missed all of spring training and the first two-plus months of this season, Snitker thinks the two minor-league starts will prove to be sufficient preparation for him.

Keuchel wasn’t available for comment at Sun-Trust Park on Monday.


Syndergaard out for one start

ATLANTA — New York Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said right-hander Noah Syndergaard has a low-grade hamstring strain and will miss at least one start.

Syndergaard underwent an MRI on Sunday and was placed on the 10-day injured list. Call-away hopes Syndergaard misses just one start but says it’s too early to tell if he will need more time to recover.

Reliever Wilmer Font is a candidate to take Syndergaard’s turn in the rotation, but Callaway says Seth Lugo is not.

Syndergaard reached for the back of his right leg after throwing a pitch in the seventh inning Saturday night against St. Louis. He walked off the field with a limp, but wasn’t favoring the leg while playing catch and doing agility drills before Monday’s game.

He is 5-4 with a 4.55 ERA in 15 starts.


Pence to IL

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers are juggling their banged-up outfielders, with Hunter Pence the latest to go on the injured list.

Pence was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday, a day after he sustained a right groin strain in a loss at Cincinnati.

While Pence joined slugging outfielder Joey Gallo on the injured list, the Rangers activated outfielder Willie Calhoun from the list. Calhoun played in the series opener against Cleveland for his first action since a left quad strain May 21. Gallo has been out since June 2 with a left oblique strain. The Rangers home run leader, with 17, worked out in Texas after a scheduled flight to Arizona was cancelled. He is scheduled to the team’s spring training complex in Arizona today to continue his rehab.

Pence got hurt Sunday when playing right field in place of Nomar Mazara, who was out of the lineup for the second game in a row Monday because of right hamstring tightness.

Pence, 36, has had quite a comeback season in his debut with his hometown Rangers, hitting .294 in 55 games. He has 15 home runs and a team-leading 48 RBI, including a two-run home run Sunday before getting hurt.

Both Pence and Mazara had MRI on Monday.


Machado appealing

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Padres star Manny Machado denied he made contact with plate umpire Bill Welke after being ejected for arguing a called third strike Saturday night and said he’ll appeal his one-game suspension and fine. “I’ve just never seen anyone get suspended for arguing balls and strikes, so we’ll see what happens,” Machado said before Monday night’s game with Milwaukee.

MLB said the punishment, imposed by Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, was for “aggressively arguing and making contact” with Welke.

Asked if he made contact, Machado said: “Not that I believe, so no, but everyone has their own right to write what they want. We have our case and we’re going to wait to see what the appeal comes back with. We always have the right to argue balls and strikes and give our opinion on it.

“You could see the video. I mean, I was right the whole way. There’s video for it.”

The third baseman had two hits and scored twice before being ejected by Welke in the fifth inning Saturday night at Colorado after a called third strike.

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