MLB Umps Wear White Wristbands to Protest Increased Verbal Attacks by Players

The World Umpires Association, which represents MLB umpires, issued a statement Saturday saying its members will wear white wristbands "to protest escalating verbal attacks on umpires and their strong objection to the Office of the Commissioner's response to the verbal attacks." 

The complete statement can be viewed below: 

The WUA also relayed a photo of umpire Joe West donning the white wristband: 

Comments from both umpires and players have forced Major League Baseball to take disciplinary action in recent weeks. 

The first incident involved West, who was suspended three games for calling Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre the game's biggest complainer. 

"Every pitch you call that's a strike, he says, 'Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!'" West told USA Today. "I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, 'That ball is outside.'"

The second incident involved Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler and umpire Angel Hernandez. 

Still fuming after he was ejected from Monday's game against the Rangers in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes, Kinsler unloaded during a postgame meeting with reporters. 

"No, I'm surprised at how bad an umpire he is," Kinsler said, per the Detroit News' Chris McCosky. "I don't know how, for as many years he's been in the league, that he can be that bad. He needs to re-evaluate his career choice, he really does. Bottom line.

"If I get fined for saying the truth, then so be it. He's messing with baseball games, blatantly."

Kinsler was subsequently fined by Major League Baseball but avoided a suspension. 

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Manny Machado Hits 3 HR, Including Walkoff Grand Slam vs. Angels

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado flexed his muscles Friday night in a 9-7 win over the Los Angeles Angels

After belting a two-run home run in the third inning and a solo shot in the fifth, Machado stepped up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and belted a walk-off grand slam off Keynan Middleton: 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Machado joined Joey Votto and Khris Davis as the only players in Major League Baseball history to punctuate a three-home run outing with a walk-off grand slam. 

Baltimore's hot corner stalwart is now slashing .367/.358/.785 with eight home runs and 28 RBI over his last 18 games, per MLB.com's Andrew Simon

Thanks to Friday's win, which snapped a two-game losing skid, the Orioles are now two games back of the American League's final wild-card spot. 

They'll attempt to cut into that deficit even more Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET when Kevin Gausman takes the mound against Angels starter J.C. Ramirez. 

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Max Scherzer Scratched from Start vs. Padres with Neck Injury

Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer was scratched from Friday's start against the San Diego Padres because of a neck injury, according to MASN's Mark Zuckerman

Scherzer last landed on the injury report Aug. 1 when he was pulled from his start against the Miami Marlins with spasms on the other side of his neck.  

However, that proved to be more of a scare than anything else, and he returned to the mound Aug. 7. 

When healthy, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner has been dialed in. 

To date, he's gone 12-5 with a 2.25 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and NL-leading marks of 12.3 strikeouts and 5.4 hits allowed per nine innings.   

There may not be another pitcher in baseballmuch less in the Nationals' rotationwho can produce those numbers, so Washington will need to hold out hope the latest ailment proves minor again and doesn't prevent Scherzer from missing future starts. 

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Nationals Principal Owner Mark Lerner Discusses Leg Cancer, Limb Amputation

Washington Nationals vice chairman and principal owner Mark Lerner told MASN's Mark Zuckerman Thursday night he hasn't been a visible presence at Nationals Park this season because he was diagnosed with cancer in his left leg. 

"I know you recognize that only something really challenging would have kept me from my favorite seat at the ballpark these past months," Lerner said in a statement. "In early January, they discovered Spindle Cell Sarcoma in my left leg above the knee. Radiation was completed in March and I had surgery in April to successfully remove the cancer. The radiation treatment eventually caused the wound not to heal properly."

Lerner added that because recovery didn't go as planned, "we decided that amputation of that leg was my best choice to maintain the active and busy lifestyle that I have always enjoyed." 

The 63-year-old emphasized he is now "healing well" and "cancer-free." 

According to the team's official website, Lerner serves as one of seven principal owners under his father Theodore Lerner, who is listed as the managing principal owner. 

But according to Zuckerman, Mark "has been the public face of the Lerner family" since the franchise moved from Montreal to the nation's capital. 

"I really appreciate everyone respecting our family's privacy as we’ve gone through this," Lerner said. "I'm not sure of the timeline yet, but you know I'll be at Nationals Park as soon as I possibly can."

The Nationals entered Thursday night's game against the San Diego Padres with a robust 13.5-game lead over the Miami Marlins for first place in the National League East. 

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Yasiel Puig Promises to See Dodgers Fans in the World Series

Yasiel Puig was bursting with confidence Wednesday night, and for good reason.

Not only did the Los Angeles Dodgers improve to 85-34 with a 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox, but Puig also punctuated the effort with a two-run walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Beaming in the aftermath of the Dodgers' 10th walk-off win of the year, Puig guaranteed a World Series appearance while addressing a jubilant crowd at Dodger Stadium.

"I see you in the World Series guys," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke.

In years past, Puig's statement would have sounded a tad audacious.

Now it's wholly reasonable.

The class of Major League Baseball in 2017, the Dodgers have racked up 11 more wins than the Houston Astros (74-46) and 14 more than the National League East-leading Washington Nationals (71-47).

That massive disparity has been buoyed by dominance in Hollywood, with L.A. racking up 30 wins in its last 34 appearances at Chavez Ravine.

According to OddsShark, the Dodgers—who have been defeated in the NLCS four times since 2008—are currently favored to win the World Series at +250 (bet $100 to win $250).

Should the Dodgers exorcise those recent demons and make good on Puig's promise of a pennant, they'll be in the driver's seat to capture their first championship since 1988.

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Miguel Cabrera Day-to-Day After Leaving Game vs. Twins with Back Injury

Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera suffered a back injury Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.

Per the Tigers media relations department, Cabrera is officially listed as day-to-day after leaving the game with lower back tightness.

Cabrera was removed from Saturday's contest against the Twins in the top of the seventh inning and replaced by John Hicks. He was 1-for-3 with a single before being taken out.

The setback is just the latest for Cabrera, who has been hounded by various injuries—including back, oblique, groin and hip ailmentsto this point in the 2017 season.

When he's been healthy, Cabrera has taken a step back at the plate.

A year after he slashed .316/.393/.563 with 38 home runs and 108 RBI, the two-time MVP entered Saturday with a slash line of .252/.337/.407 while cracking 13 home runs and driving in 53 runs.

With Cabrera banged up, the Tigers will likely use Hicks and Andrew Romine to hold down first base until they can get their slugger back into the lineup.

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Ryan Howard Agrees to Minor League Contract with Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies announced Saturday that they will sign former Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard to a minor league contract.

Howard, 37, most recently spent time in the Atlanta Braves organization before he was released from his minor league contract on May 8.

     

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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James Paxton Placed on 10-Day DL with Pectoral Injury

The Seattle Mariners placed starting pitcher James Paxton on the 10-day disabled list Friday after he suffered a strained left pectoral muscle during Thursday's showdown against the Los Angeles Angels

According to the Seattle Times' Ryan Divish, Paxton will miss at least three weeks. 

News of Paxton's injury comes at just about the worst possible time for Seattle. 

The Mariners are in the thick of the postseason race and are currently 2.5 games back of the New York Yankees for the top spot in the American League Wild Card standings. 

As if losing Paxton—who is 12-3 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.078 WHIP—wasn't bad enough, the Mariners are also making due without Felix Hernandez (right shoulder bursitis) for the foreseeable future. 

According to MLB.com's Greg Johns, doctors have told the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner he's likely to miss somewhere between three and four weeks. 

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Jeb Bush Group Drops Out of Marlins Bidding; Derek Jeter Group a Finalist

The prospective ownership group led by Quogue Capital founder Wayne Rothbaum and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has reportedly dropped out of the bidding for the Miami Marlins, according to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman

Two groups, including one led by former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, are still bidding for the South Florida franchise after owner Jeffrey Loria put the team up for sale prior to the 2017 season. 

Heyman reported Wednesday that Bush's group didn't appear to be front-runners since it was only comfortable bidding $1 billion—$200 million below Loria's asking price. 

A group headed by Miami businessman Jorge Mas has emerged as the other finalist.  

Heyman added Loria would like to complete the sale "within the next week or two," but it remains unclear if that goal can be achieved. 

As things stand, Jeter's group is said to be bidding $1.2 billion. However, a June 22 report from the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) cited a source who said Jeter told Major League Baseball he did not yet have the funds necessary to meet the steep cost. 

On Wednesday, Heyman cited sources who said it's still believed that Jeter has not pooled together the assets necessary to close a deal. 

Mas, meanwhile, has reportedly bid $1.17 billion and is seeking an exclusive negotiating window. 

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MLB Free Agents 2017: Early Buzz and Predictions for Hitters on Expiring Deals

The start of Major League Baseball's free-agent signing period is still months away, but buzz is already starting to circulate the rumor mill regarding some of the biggest hitters slated to hit the market this winter. 

So as the second half of the season starts to wind down and pennant races come into clear view, here's a look at a few notable outfielders whose situations will be worth monitoring once the offseason gets underway.

As a bit of housekeeping, bear in mind predictions were made with more general parameters in mind, since interested teams won't make themselves known until hot stove season ramps up.  

          

J.D. Martinez

J.D. Martinez should cash in when the offseason starts. 

Although he's slumped (.226/.328/.623) since getting dealt from the Detroit Tigers to the Arizona Diamondbacks in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline, the 29-year-old right fielder is a power-packed force who can change the complexity of a lineup when he's penciled into the heart of the order. 

Dating back to his debut in 2011, Martinez has posted 129 home runs and an .837 OPS. During that seven-season stretch, those marks rank 20th and 15th among all outfielders, according to FanGraphs

Those are numbers worth paying for, and they should vault Martinez into an esteemed financial tier when all is said and done. 

As things stand, Martinez's $11.7 million salary ranks 25th among outfielders

Based on his pure power numbers and lifetime .282 batting average, Martinez stands to crack the top 15 average annual salaries among outfielders at a minimum. 

In fact, he could vault as high as the top 10 if he's able to crank things up as the postseason approaches. 

"There's always that little bit of added pressure or stress that goes into it, because everybody's always talking about it," Martinez said of his impending free agency, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "Everybody reinforces it on you. I'm just trying not to think about it and just play the game.

"But I think it definitely helps going to a contender."

Martinez remains something of a net-negative defensively, but it shouldn't be hard for power-hungry teams to overlook those shortcomings and open their wallets to land arguably the best position player on the market. 

Prediction: Martinez garners a multi-year deal that pays north of $15 million annually

          

Justin Upton

Justin Upton is playing on a pseudo-expiring deal through the 2021 season since his mammoth six-year, $132.7 million deal with the Tigers includes a player option each of the next four seasons. 

Just don't expect him to hit free agency anytime soon. 

While the 29-year-old could conceivably garner another major long-term commitment if he hits the open market since he's slashing .315/.411/.630 with a 1.042 OPS, six home runs and 24 RBI since the All-Star break, passing up a guaranteed $22.1 million payday doesn't appear to be in the cards. 

FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reported in May that Upton declining his player option at this juncture "seems beyond remote" and noted that one general manager told him it's "not happening." 

Upton's mammoth annual salary ranks third among outfielders behind Jason Heyward and Yoenis Cespedes, and that figure may be hard for the Tigers to swallow through 2021. 

However, that's a long way from now. 

With Upton still producing like one of the game's premier corner outfielders at the plate, the Tigers shouldn't have any qualms about Upton returning to the fold as a centerpiece in 2018 and beyond.  

Prediction: Upton exercises his 2018 player option and returns to Detroit

        

Jay Bruce

The New York Mets couldn't find a taker for Jay Bruce at the non-waiver trade deadline despite the team's best efforts. 

According to Newsday's Marc Carig, there's a reason for that. Citing rival executives, Carig reported Bruce wasn't coveted by rival teams because his "worth is rooted primarily in hitting for power at a time when teams generally have placed more of an emphasis on speed and defense."

On the surface, that assessment seems fair. Bruce owns a .249 lifetime average and .319 on-base percentage. 

That said, his defense has been solid all season long and can't be overlooked as he prepares to become a free agent. 

According to FanGraphs, Bruce currently ranks tied for second with Aaron Judge among all right fielders with seven defensive runs saved this season. The only player with a superior mark is Mookie Betts, who is blowing his positional peers out of the water with 30 DRS.  

"I'm not sitting here saying that I'm Jason Heyward or Yasiel Puig or Mookie Betts or anything like that," Bruce said, per Carig. "But that’s a bit of a broad stroke, a lazy approach to judging me as a defender."

Bruce figures to have a hard time matching the $13 million he's earning in 2017 once he's eligible to field offers, but a multi-year contract in the range of $8-10 million a year is reasonable for a power hitter and fielder of his ilk. 

Prediction: Bruce re-signs with the Mets on a two-year deal  

         

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise and current through Monday, Aug. 7. 

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Albert Pujols, Mike Scioscia Ejected for Arguing Balls and Strikes vs. Orioles

Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia and designated hitter Albert Pujols were ejected from Tuesday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles for arguing balls and strikes. 

According to Southern California News Group's Jeff Fletcher, the two were tossed after taking issue with a check-swing call in the bottom of the sixth inning that resulted in Pujols' second strikeout of the evening. 

It's been a season full of frustration for Pujols and the Angels, who entered Tuesday night on a three-game losing streak that has sent them tumbling back below .500. 

On a personal level, Pujols has floundered throughout 2017—including a particularly rough stretch over the past month. 

Prior to his ejection, the three-time MVP was slashing .179/.207/.345 with four home runs, 14 RBI and 16 strikeouts since the All-Star break. 

All told, Pujols is in the midst of posting a career-low batting average (.228), on-base percentage (.272) and slugging percentage (.379) along with minus-1.4 offensive wins above replacement

Should that mark stay in the red, it will represent the first time in Pujols' career that he posts an oWAR total below 1.3.  

 

Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference

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CC Sabathia to Undergo Tests on Knee Injury Suffered vs. Blue Jays

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia will head back to New York for tests on his knee after tweaking it during Tuesday's abbreviated start against the Toronto Blue Jays, according to YES Network's Meredith Marakovits

The New York Daily News' Mike Mazzeo added it's unclear if Sabathia will be placed on the 10-day disabled list. 

Sabathia previously spent three weeks on the shelf after he was diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain June 13. He returned to the mound July 4 and has gone 2-3 since. 

Now 19 starts into the 2017 season, the seasoned southpaw is 9-5 overall with a 4.05 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. 

Despite a shaky outing Tuesday that saw Sabathia give up four earned runs in three innings, his production won't be easily replaced if he's forced to miss starts considering the Yankees are 13-6 when he takes the mound, per Mazzeo

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Dodgers’ Streak of 53 Straight Wins After Leading Snapped by Braves

The Atlanta Braves snapped the Los Angeles Dodgers' nine-game winning streak Wednesday night with a 5-3 win over the National League West leaders at SunTrust Park.

The loss also represented the end of the Dodgers' 53-game winning streak in contests in which they had a lead, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). 

Atlanta was able to come back from a 3-2 deficit in the fifth inning thanks to a game-tying single from Freddie Freeman that set the stage for Tyler Flowers' two-run homer to center in the bottom of the eighth. 

Arodys Vizcaino then entered in the ninth and shut down the Dodgers' high-octane lineup to secure a nine-pitch save. 

The Dodgers won't lose sleep over the loss, though. 

Following Wednesday's outing, L.A. still leads the Arizona Diamondbacks by 14 games atop the NL West. Manager Dave Roberts' side is also 12 wins clear of the Washington Nationals for the best record in the National League. 

The Dodgers will return to the diamond Thursday seeking a series victory over the Braves before heading to Citi Field for a three-game weekend set with the New York Mets

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Adrian Beltre Doesn’t Want to Go Through Rangers Rebuild After Yu Darvish Trade

Adrian Beltre isn't keen on sticking with the Texas Rangers through a rebuild, and he made that much clear after Yu Darvish was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Monday's non-waiver trade deadline.

"At this stage of my career, I'm not here for a rebuild," Beltre said, according to the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant. "But I don't think it will be. I think there is a possibility of this team playing better this year. I'm still focused on this year and don't want to think about it right now, but it would change things for me."

Beltre also admitted he was frustrated with the front office's decision to roll the dice on a Darvish deal since he thought the Rangers—who are 5.5 games back in the American League Wild Card race—still had a chance to make a run.

"We're not pleased with the trade," the third baseman added. "I don't think we are completely sold on the situation being [hopeless] for this year. It was a tough a situation. I know he's going to be a free agent and they were trying to get something. I try to understand the business side of it and I understand what they are doing, but the on the baseball side you are not happy. That doesn't matter. That's not going to change our mentality."

As Beltre acknowledged, trading Darvish isn't a surefire acknowledgment the Rangers are headed for a rebuild.

General manager Jon Daniels intimidated as much Monday when he said the Rangers were looking to capitalize on Darvish's expiring contract and bolster their prospect stockpile since the four-time All-Star is in a walk year:

Daniels reiterated Tuesday he doesn't view the move as an indication of a rebuild "at all," according to Grant.

That said, Texas still has loads of work to do before it's in position for a pennant again if the 2017 season has been any indication.

If the Rangers can't round into form by the 2018 trade deadline, it will be worth keeping tabs on Beltre's status since he'll then be in a contract year at the age of 39.

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Evan Longoria Hits for Cycle vs. Astros

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria hit for his first career cycle Tuesday night against the Houston Astros.

The defining swing came in the ninth inning, when Longoria ripped a two-out double after smacking a two-run home run in the first, a triple in the third and a single to left field in the seventh.

Longoria was initially ruled out after sliding into second base in the ninth, but the call was overturned upon review: 

Longoria joined B.J. Upton as the only players in franchise history to hit for the cycle. He's also the sixth player in Major League Baseball to achieve the feat this season, per MLB's official Twitter account.

It's fitting that Longoria started August with a cycle, namely because he was on a tear at the plate all through July.

After batting a solid .283 in June, Longoria broke out and slashed .320/.333/.505 with four home runs, 15 RBI and a .838 OPS in 105 plate appearances.

Now in the thick of the American League Wild Card race, the Rays will hope Longoria can stay hot through August as they seek their first trip to the postseason since 2013.

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Jon Lester Notches 2,000th Career Strikeout vs. Diamondbacks

Jon Lester on Tuesday became the 25th left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball history to reach 2,000 strikeouts.

Lester joined the exclusive club in the top of the fourth inning when he struck out Arizona Diamondbacks pinch hitter Jack Reinheimer.

According to ESPN.com's Jesse Rogers, the only other active southpaws with 2,000 strikeouts are CC Sabathia, Cole Hamels and Clayton Kershaw.

It was an eventful evening for Lester, who also did some surprising damage at the plate.

Though the 33-year-old entered Tuesday as a lifetime .072 hitter, he connected on the first home run of his career, launching a two-run shot to left-center in the bottom of the third inning:

Lester finished 2-for-2 at the plate and struck out nine over four innings on the bump, allowing three earned runs on five hits and three walks.

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Orioles’ Mark Trumbo Placed on 10-Day DL with Rib Injury

The Baltimore Orioles announced Monday that designated hitter Mark Trumbo was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a rib cage strain.

As Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reported, the 31-year-old tweaked his back in the weight room before being scratched from the lineup. The roster move is retroactive to Sunday.

The slugger has been a steady force in the lineup until the latest injury, appearing in 103 games this season of the team's 105 games. He has appeared in at least 140 contests in every full season of his major league career. 

Now a year removed from a season that saw him hit a major league-high 47 home runs, the slugger is slashing .238/.300/.405 with 17 dingers and 50 RBI. 

If Trumbo is out for an extended stretch, the Orioles could pivot to Trey Mancini or Joey Rickard as their primary DH with Craig Gentry also likely to get extra playing time.

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Orioles’ Mark Trumbo Placed on 10-Day DL with Rib Injury

The Baltimore Orioles announced Monday that designated hitter Mark Trumbo was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a rib cage strain.

As Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reported, the 31-year-old tweaked his back in the weight room before being scratched from the lineup. The roster move is retroactive to Sunday.

The slugger has been a steady force in the lineup until the latest injury, appearing in 103 games this season of the team's 105 games. He has appeared in at least 140 contests in every full season of his major league career. 

Now a year removed from a season that saw him hit a major league-high 47 home runs, the slugger is slashing .238/.300/.405 with 17 dingers and 50 RBI. 

If Trumbo is out for an extended stretch, the Orioles could pivot to Trey Mancini or Joey Rickard as their primary DH with Craig Gentry also likely to get extra playing time.

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Orioles’ Mark Trumbo Placed on 10-Day DL with Rib Injury

The Baltimore Orioles announced Monday that designated hitter Mark Trumbo was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a rib cage strain.

As Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reported, the 31-year-old tweaked his back in the weight room before being scratched from the lineup. The roster move is retroactive to Sunday.

The slugger has been a steady force in the lineup until the latest injury, appearing in 103 games this season of the team's 105 games. He has appeared in at least 140 contests in every full season of his major league career. 

Now a year removed from a season that saw him hit a major league-high 47 home runs, the slugger is slashing .238/.300/.405 with 17 dingers and 50 RBI. 

If Trumbo is out for an extended stretch, the Orioles could pivot to Trey Mancini or Joey Rickard as their primary DH with Craig Gentry also likely to get extra playing time.

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Orioles’ Mark Trumbo Placed on 10-Day DL with Rib Injury

The Baltimore Orioles announced Monday that designated hitter Mark Trumbo was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a rib cage strain.

As Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reported, the 31-year-old tweaked his back in the weight room before being scratched from the lineup. The roster move is retroactive to Sunday.

The slugger has been a steady force in the lineup until the latest injury, appearing in 103 games this season of the team's 105 games. He has appeared in at least 140 contests in every full season of his major league career. 

Now a year removed from a season that saw him hit a major league-high 47 home runs, the slugger is slashing .238/.300/.405 with 17 dingers and 50 RBI. 

If Trumbo is out for an extended stretch, the Orioles could pivot to Trey Mancini or Joey Rickard as their primary DH with Craig Gentry also likely to get extra playing time.

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