West Notes: Almonte, Chatwood, Astros, Putz

The Mariners announced yesterday that Opening Day center fielder and leadoff man Abraham Almonte has been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma in favor of outfield prospect James Jones. Almonte, acquired from the Yankees in a trade for right-hander Shawn Kelley, entered the season ranked as the club’s No. 17 prospect (per Baseball America). However, he struggled with an everyday role, batting just .198/.248/.292. Jones, 25, has already made his MLB debut earlier this season, collecting a hit in his only plate appearance in mid-April. He hit a strong .313/.382/.450 in Triple-A, and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune wrote that despite not starting against a tough lefty yesterday (Scott Kazmir), Jones will receive regular playing time in center field.

More from the game’s Western divisions…

  • The Rockies got some mixed news on right-hander Tyler Chatwood, Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. While Chatwood’s arm injury doesn’t appear to be season-ending, he will miss at least six to eight weeks as he rehabs from a flexor strain in his right arm. Franklin Morales has stepped into the rotation as the team purchased the contract of righty reliever Nick Masset, whose 40-man spot was opened by transferring Chatwood to the 60-day DL. For Masset, this marks a long journey back to the Majors after a series of shoulder injuries derailed his career in 2011-13.
  • Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with Astros medical risk manager and analyst Bill Firkus about his role with the team and also spoke with key members of the club’s medical/training staff about how Birkus has helped the club since his arrival last July. Firkus isn’t a doctor, but he specializes in analyzing trends and injury studies around professional sports. What has changed is the way we look at files for possible trades or picking up free agents,” said head trainer Nate Lucero. Drellich’s article gives an excellent look at Houston’s medical program and the changes that have been made to evaluating the success of operations since GM Jeff Luhnow took over.
  • Add J.J. Putz‘s name to the list of upcoming free agent pitcher (or just pitchers in general) who have a troublesome arm injury; Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported late last night that Putz will be placed on the DL with right forearm tightness. The Diamondbacks have had poor luck with its pitching staff in 2014, losing Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez to Tommy John surgery while Archie Bradley has hit the minor league DL after struggling at Triple-A. As Piecoro notes, Putz suffered a UCL sprain last year that didn’t require surgery. Any long-term injury could potetially be a crushing blow to his free agent stock.

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