Nationals Ask Permission to Interview Alex Cora for Vacant Manager Job

The Washington Nationals are reportedly set to seek permission to interview Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora for their vacant managerial position once the team's ALCS matchup with the New York Yankees reaches its conclusion Saturday night. 

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported the Nats, who offered Cora a player development job in the past, now want to speak to him about potentially replacing Dusty Baker.

Washington may be too late to land the coveted former MLB infielder, though.

On Thursday, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reported "industry sources" expect the Boston Red Sox to hire Cora to fill the void left by John Farrell's firing. It's a move that could happen following the ALCS with a potential press conference announcing his arrival before the World Series begins Tuesday night.

"Not a doubt it is him," a source told Drellich.

That said, the Nationals' job carries plenty of intrigue if Cora hasn't made a decision yet.

The Nats went 192-132 across Baker's two years in charge and won the NL East division crown both times. They failed to advance beyond the NLDS in either season, however, which led to the veteran manager's exit despite a .593 winning percentage.

While both organizations feature playoff-level rosters, Washington has the advantage of playing in the weak NL East, which it won by 20 games this season. Meanwhile, Boston has to navigate the tougher AL East, highlighted by the rival Yankees.

Cora told Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle he took more pride in his success with the Astros than being discussed as a top managerial option.

"I'm happy that people mention my name, but at the same time I'm happy that people say that I'm a good bench coach for the Houston Astros," he said. "I think that's very important for me because that's what my goal was coming here, just try to be the best at what I do.

"For people to mention me in other conversations it's great, but I like when they talk about the Houston Astros and how good they are and how I helped some of the players or the team to win ballgames. That's the one that I really love."

His success in Houston came while working in the background as a bench coach. The pressure level will rise dramatically if he accepts an offer to become manager in Boston or Washington.

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Nationals Ask Permission to Interview Alex Cora for Vacant Manager Job

The Washington Nationals are reportedly set to seek permission to interview Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora for their vacant managerial position once the team's ALCS matchup with the New York Yankees reaches its conclusion Saturday night. 

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported the Nats, who offered Cora a player development job in the past, now want to speak to him about potentially replacing Dusty Baker.

Washington may be too late to land the coveted former MLB infielder, though.

On Thursday, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reported "industry sources" expect the Boston Red Sox to hire Cora to fill the void left by John Farrell's firing. It's a move that could happen following the ALCS with a potential press conference announcing his arrival before the World Series begins Tuesday night.

"Not a doubt it is him," a source told Drellich.

That said, the Nationals' job carries plenty of intrigue if Cora hasn't made a decision yet.

The Nats went 192-132 across Baker's two years in charge and won the NL East division crown both times. They failed to advance beyond the NLDS in either season, however, which led to the veteran manager's exit despite a .593 winning percentage.

While both organizations feature playoff-level rosters, Washington has the advantage of playing in the weak NL East, which it won by 20 games this season. Meanwhile, Boston has to navigate the tougher AL East, highlighted by the rival Yankees.

Cora told Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle he took more pride in his success with the Astros than being discussed as a top managerial option.

"I'm happy that people mention my name, but at the same time I'm happy that people say that I'm a good bench coach for the Houston Astros," he said. "I think that's very important for me because that's what my goal was coming here, just try to be the best at what I do.

"For people to mention me in other conversations it's great, but I like when they talk about the Houston Astros and how good they are and how I helped some of the players or the team to win ballgames. That's the one that I really love."

His success in Houston came while working in the background as a bench coach. The pressure level will rise dramatically if he accepts an offer to become manager in Boston or Washington.

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Daniel Murphy Undergoes Surgery on Knee Injury; Rehab to Last Whole Offseason

Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent surgery on his right knee Friday to "repair damage to the articular cartilage."

Mark Zuckerman of MASN noted the Nats' announcement confirmed it was a debridement and microfracture procedure. He's expected to rehab "throughout the offseason."

Murphy parlayed his memorable 2015 playoff run with the New York Mets into a monster debut year with the Nats. He set new career highs in batting average (.347), home runs (25) and runs batted in (104) and earned his second All-Star Game selection in 2016.

He remained a vital cog throughout 2017 with a .322/.384/.543 slash line and 23 homers.

The 32-year-old infielder has stayed mostly durable in recent years. He's played at least 130 games in every season dating back to 2012. He did spend some time out of the lineup late in the 2016 season because of a strained left buttocks, though. More recently, he was sidelined with neck and hamstring issues.

Looking ahead, it's unclear at this stage whether the Nationals expect Murphy back at full strength in time for 2018 Spring Training. He's suddenly become one of the most impactful players in baseball and the team can't expect more than replacement-level numbers at the position if he ends up missing time next year.

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Dusty Baker Parts Ways with Nationals After 2 Seasons

The Washington Nationals announced Friday manager Dusty Baker won't return for the 2018 MLB season.

Dan Kolko of the MLB Network passed along the news of Baker's exit after two years with the Nats. Mark Zuckerman of MASN provided a statement from the club:

                 

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

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Dusty Baker Parts Ways with Nationals After 2 Seasons

The Washington Nationals announced Friday manager Dusty Baker won't return for the 2018 MLB season.

Dan Kolko of the MLB Network passed along the news of Baker's exit after two years with the Nats. Mark Zuckerman of MASN provided a statement from the club:

                 

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

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MLB Playoffs 2017: Live-Stream Guide, TV Schedule, Times and Odds

The 2017 MLB postseason rolls on Tuesday night with Game 4 of the ALCS between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees as well as Game 3 of the NLCS featuring the Los Angeles Dodgers and reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

New York won a pivotal Game 3 at Yankee Stadium on Monday night to avoid falling in a 3-0 hole. It will look to defend home field again Tuesday in order to level the series.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers took the first two matchups at home on the National League side. The Cubs hope the friendly confines of Wrigley Field can get them back in the series with a win in Game 3.

Let's check out all of the important information for Tuesday's action. That's followed by a preview of both contests on tap. Game lines are courtesy of OddsShark.

                    

Tuesday's Viewing Schedule

Astros at Yankees (Game 4; HOU Leads 2-1)

Time: 5 p.m. ET

TV: Fox Sports 1

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

                 

Dodgers at Cubs (Game 3; LAD Leads 2-0)

Time: 9 p.m. ET

TV: TBS

Live Stream: Watch TBS

              

Game Previews

Astros (+115) at Yankees (-130)

Pitching Matchup: Lance McCullers Jr. (HOU) vs. Sonny Gray (NYY)

The Yankees stormed back from a 2-0 deficit in their ALDS clash with the Cleveland Indians in the previous round, so there wasn't much panic from the Bronx Bombers after falling behind the Astros by the same margin. That outlook likely would have changed with a loss Monday.

Instead, New York scored a resounding 8-1 victory thanks to home runs by Todd Frazier and Aaron Judge as well as a vintage performance from starting pitcher CC Sabathia, who pitched six scoreless innings with five strikeouts.

Judge is the key to the Yankees' chances. He led the American League with 52 homers during the regular season, but he's struggled for the most part during the playoffs. He's posted a .147/.293/.353 triple-slash line with two long balls and 21 strikeouts in 10 games.

Yanks manager Joe Girardi said the outfielder is still finding a way to make an impact—which included a highlight-reel catch Monday—even when he isn't getting hits consistently.

"We've played how many playoff games--nine? He [has] seven RBIs," he told reporters. "He gets his walks, got another one tonight. I know how dangerous he is. He can really change a game really quickly."

The silver lining for the Astros, aside from their continued lead in the series, is the strength of their starting staff. Charlie Morton struggled in Game 3, but Houston has McCullers, Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel lined up for the next three contests needing two wins to advance.

McCullers takes the mound Tuesday after a couple of strong starts against the Yankees during the regular season. He gave up three earned runs in 11.1 innings (2.38 ERA) with 13 strikeouts and two walks.

              

Dodgers (+104) at Cubs (-114)

Pitching Matchup: Yu Darvish (LAD) vs. Kyle Hendricks (CHC)

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was rightfully criticized for bringing in John Lackey rather than Wade Davis in the ninth inning of Game 2. Justin Turner delivered a walk-off home run two batters later to give Los Angeles a 2-0 lead as the series shifted to Chicago.

Afterward, Maddon spoke to the larger problem facing the Cubs as they attempt to defend their championship: a suddenly absent offense.

"We scored one run today," he told reporters. "That's the issue. We've scored 11 runs in six games during the playoffs."

The challenge for Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Co. doesn't get any easier against Darvish, who's one of the most dominant starters in baseball when in top form. He struck out 209 batters in 186.2 innings during the regular season and the Cubs haven't had the benefit of facing him this year.

Chicago will counter with Hendricks, who ranks second in ERA over the past two seasons among qualified starters behind only the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, per Fangraphs.

So all signs point toward a low-scoring, tension-filled night at Wrigley. The Cubs must figure out a way to grind out a victory in order to avoid what would probably be an insurmountable 3-0 Dodgers lead.

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Joe Girardi Thought Luis Severino Was Injured When He Pulled SP in Game 2

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he pulled Luis Severino from Saturday's American League Championship Series loss to the Houston Astros after four innings because he thought the starting pitcher was injured.

After the 2-1 Game 2 defeat, Severino said he "wanted to go out there and pitch" and team doctors confirmed the starter wasn't hurt, per Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com.

"I think it is my responsibility to protect this kid," Girardi said.

Severino threw 62 pitches across his four innings of work, giving up two hits, two walks and one earned run.

Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson covered four scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Yanks, but closer Aroldis Chapman allowed the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Girardi said Severino's actions on the mound suggested to him there might have been a shoulder problem, but the pitcher said he "didn't feel anything," per Marchand. The Yankees manager added the starter might go for further testing, something Severino said he didn't think was necessary.

Meanwhile, Saturday's loss put New York in a 2-0 series hole for the second straight series. They fell behind the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS before storming back to win three consecutive games to punch their ticket to face the Astros.

It's unclear if Severino will take the ball again in the series. CC Sabathia is the team's probable starter for Game 3 on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

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Joe Girardi Thought Luis Severino Was Injured When He Pulled SP in Game 2

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he pulled Luis Severino from Saturday's American League Championship Series loss to the Houston Astros after four innings because he thought the starting pitcher was injured.

After the 2-1 Game 2 defeat, Severino said he "wanted to go out there and pitch" and team doctors confirmed the starter wasn't hurt, per Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com.

"I think it is my responsibility to protect this kid," Girardi said.

Severino threw 62 pitches across his four innings of work, giving up two hits, two walks and one earned run.

Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson covered four scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Yanks, but closer Aroldis Chapman allowed the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Girardi said Severino's actions on the mound suggested to him there might have been a shoulder problem, but the pitcher said he "didn't feel anything," per Marchand. The Yankees manager added the starter might go for further testing, something Severino said he didn't think was necessary.

Meanwhile, Saturday's loss put New York in a 2-0 series hole for the second straight series. They fell behind the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS before storming back to win three consecutive games to punch their ticket to face the Astros.

It's unclear if Severino will take the ball again in the series. CC Sabathia is the team's probable starter for Game 3 on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

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Derek Jeter Announces Marlins Will Donate $200,000 to Hurricane Relief

Miami Marlins co-owner Derek Jeter announced Saturday the MLB organization is donating $200,000 to aid hurricane relief efforts.

Andy Slater of WINZ passed along the news.

                

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

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Joe Girardi Rumors: Mets ‘Open To’ Hiring Manager If Fired by Yankees

The New York Mets would reportedly consider hiring manager Joe Girardi if he's not re-signed by the crosstown rival New York Yankees at the conclusion of the team's playoff run.

On Monday, Mike Puma of the New York Post noted the Mets are "keeping surveillance" on the Girardi situation as they seek a replacement for Terry Collins, who resigned following a 70-92 season.

                 

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

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Nationals Assistant Hitting Coach Jacque Jones Suspended Amid Revenge Porn Suit

Washington Nationals assistant hitting coach Jacque Jones was suspended Friday for what the MLB club called a "pending legal matter."

A.J. Perez of USA Today obtained legal documents that show Jones and the Nationals organization were named in a revenge porn lawsuit that alleges the former outfielder distributed nude photos of an unnamed woman after their relationship ended.

                 

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

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Eduardo Nunez Suffers Knee Injury vs. Astros

Boston Red Sox designated hitter Eduardo Nunez was forced to leave Thursday's playoff game against the Houston Astros in the first inning after suffering an apparent knee injury.

Rob Bradford of WEEI noted Nunez was hurt while running to first base. Sean McAdam‏ of the Boston Sports Journal added the veteran infielder couldn't put any weight on his leg and had to get carried off the field at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

                 

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

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Justin Upton Reportedly Likely to Opt out of Contract to Negotiate with Angels

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Justin Upton is reportedly set to exercise a player option to void the final four years of his contract, but he could still re-sign with the organization.

On Tuesday, Jon Morosi of the MLB Network reported it's "increasingly likely" the slugger will opt to become a free agent, but noted the move could be a "mechanism by which he negotiates more favorable terms on a new deal with Angels, where he enjoyed playing."

                 

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

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Max Scherzer Leaves Start vs. Pirates with Hamstring Injury

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer was forced to leave Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a right hamstring cramp, per ESPN.

"We took him out for precaution. We gotta make it to the playoffs healthy," manager Dusty Baker said. "So we thought it was better that we make that move, the precautionary move, to get him ready."

He had allowed just one hit and no runs in 3.1 innings before coming out, but now the team awaits results of an MRI.

Scherzer has established himself as one of the best starters in baseball over the past half-decade. He's won the Cy Young Award twice, once in the AL with the Detroit Tigers and once with the Nats in the NL, and he's earned five straight All-Star Game selections. He will end the regular season with a 2.51 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 2017.

The 33-year-old Missouri native has also remained highly durable during his rise to stardom. He entered the year having made at least 30 starts in eight consecutive seasons dating back to 2009. He was forced to the disabled list in mid-August with neck inflammation, though.

Washington will struggle to replicate the ace's production if the latest ailment forces him back out of the rotation. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez have had outstanding seasons, but losing an ace like this for the playoffs could pose a problem.

The Nationals have been on cruise control for most of the season thanks to the weakness of their NL East counterparts. That said, the important games are ready to begin, and they need to be as close to 100 percent as possible if they want to advance in the playoffs.   

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Giancarlo Stanton on Marlins: ‘I Don’t Want to Rebuild. I’ve Lost for 7 Years’

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton said Friday he doesn't want the organization to go through another rebuilding process.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports passed along comments Stanton made about the team's outlook amid "clubhouse buzz" the new ownership group could look to rebuild.

"I don't want to rebuild. ... I've lost for seven years," he said.

Stanton previously commented on the Marlins' direction in July after the front office traded closer AJ Ramos in exchange for two prospects. He was upset with the message sent by that and every similar move, per Craig Davis of the Sun Sentinel.

"Every trade for minor leaguers is two or three years away from seeing the result of that trade," the slugger said. "That means two or three years of every person taken away is a couple years until you realize what that means."

He added: "The same thing every year."

On Wednesday, Mike Ozanian of Forbes noted MLB approved the sale of the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria to a group featuring Bruce Sherman and former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for $1.2 billion.

In early September, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported a potential investor "briefed" on the new owners' plans said they planned to cut payroll from $115 million to around either $85 million (if Stanton is not traded) or $55 million (if Stanton is traded).

The MLB home run leader's contract calls for him to make $25 million in 2018. If the Marlins keep him on the roster and stick to an $85 million payroll, they will only have around $60 million for the remaining players, suggesting a fire sale could be on the horizon.

Heyman reported Stanton, who possesses a full no-trade clause, is "ready to go" if the new owners move forward with a long-term rebuilding project.

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Giancarlo Stanton on Marlins: ‘I Don’t Want to Rebuild. I’ve Lost for 7 Years’

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton said Friday he doesn't want the organization to go through another rebuilding process.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports passed along comments Stanton made about the team's outlook amid "clubhouse buzz" the new ownership group could look to rebuild.

"I don't want to rebuild. ... I've lost for seven years," he said.

Stanton previously commented on the Marlins' direction in July after the front office traded closer AJ Ramos in exchange for two prospects. He was upset with the message sent by that and every similar move, per Craig Davis of the Sun Sentinel.

"Every trade for minor leaguers is two or three years away from seeing the result of that trade," the slugger said. "That means two or three years of every person taken away is a couple years until you realize what that means."

He added: "The same thing every year."

On Wednesday, Mike Ozanian of Forbes noted MLB approved the sale of the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria to a group featuring Bruce Sherman and former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for $1.2 billion.

In early September, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported a potential investor "briefed" on the new owners' plans said they planned to cut payroll from $115 million to around either $85 million (if Stanton is not traded) or $55 million (if Stanton is traded).

The MLB home run leader's contract calls for him to make $25 million in 2018. If the Marlins keep him on the roster and stick to an $85 million payroll, they will only have around $60 million for the remaining players, suggesting a fire sale could be on the horizon.

Heyman reported Stanton, who possesses a full no-trade clause, is "ready to go" if the new owners move forward with a long-term rebuilding project.

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Giancarlo Stanton May Move to Leadoff in Final 2 Games, Says Don Mattingly

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Friday he may move MLB home run leader Giancarlo Stanton to the leadoff spot for the team's final two games of the 2017 regular season against the Atlanta Braves this weekend at Marlins Park.                          

Mattingly said Stanton's attempt to hit 60 or more homers—he has 59—is a key storyline, and he's more willing to focus on individual accomplishments with the Marlins out of the playoff picture.

"I'd really like it myself, to see him get to the round number at least," he told reporters. "You know, the number was 61 for a long time, and I'd love to see him put a couple up to see what it looks like. It's a big number; it's kind of fun. It's kind of incredible to watch that many homers in one season from one guy. It's just different."

                              

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

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Protesters Removed from Busch Stadium After Showing ‘Stop Killing Us’ Banner

Protesters were removed from Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Friday night after unveiling a banner that read "Stop Killing Us" during an MLB game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.

Kevin McDermott and Nassim Benchaabane of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the group of demonstrators, who chanted "no justice, no baseball" while holding the sign, were taken out of the stadium by police.

The protesters joined a group in Kiener Plaza as part of ongoing demonstrations after Jason Stockley, a white St. Louis patrolman, was found not guilty of murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black drug suspect, on Sept. 15, according to the Post-Dispatch.

The report also noted there were arguments between the protesters and other people leaving the baseball game as police in riot gear attempted to contain the situation. Police confirmed two people were arrested, but it's unclear if it was related to the ballpark incident.

Eliott C. McLaughlin and Susannah Cullinane of CNN reported more than 120 people were arrested during the initial protests Sept. 17 as people "attacked police, broke windows and flipped over trash cans" in response to the verdict.

"Some criminals assaulted law enforcement officers and threw chemicals and rocks at them. All of the officers' injuries were minor or moderate. All will be returned to duty soon," acting police commissioner Larry O'Toole said at the time. "We're in control. This is our city, and we're going to protect it."

Along with the two arrests, the Post-Dispatch noted Friday's incidents included one demonstrator being tased and the use of pepper spray by police.

The Brewers won the game 5-3. The same two teams face off again Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.

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Bob Melvin, Athletics Agree on 1-Year Contract Extension

The Oakland Athletics and manager Bob Melvin reached an agreement on a one-year contract extension to keep him with the A's organization through the 2019 MLB season.

Oakland announced the new deal on its official Twitter account Thursday.

Melvin took over the Athletics' managerial job midway through the 2011 campaign following the dismissal of Bob Geren. He's accumulated a 535-532 record across six-plus seasons in charge, including a 73-85 mark with four games left in 2017.

The 55-year-old former major league catcher previously served as manager of the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks. His overall record is 1,028-1,040 across 14 years. He's also won Manager of the Year honors in both leagues (2007 with Arizona and 2012 with the A's).

Although Oakland finds itself in the AL West basement this year, the lack of victories can't be placed on the shoulders of Melvin, who was working with a patchwork roster as part of the club's rebuilding efforts.

Last December, the California native talked about trying to balance the desire to win now while understanding Oakland's long-term vision.

"For the first time, actually bringing guys in and sustaining them and keeping them here, that's going to be the focus," Melvin told reporters. "So as soon as we can get a site down and start working towards that, now all of a sudden your strategy changes ... and you're developing guys that you hope to keep, down the road you'll be signing some free agents that you hope to sign for multiple years, and keeping a team together more so than we have in the past. That's important to sustaining success."

It's going to take some time for the Athletics to complete the retooling process, though. Giving Melvin an extension now rather than forcing him to enter the 2018 season under lame-duck status shows the organization is confident he can lead them through the rebuild and back up the standings.

Financial details of the extension weren't immediately released.

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MLB Announces $1 Million Donation to Puerto Rico, Mexico Disaster Relief Efforts

Major League Baseball announced Saturday a $1 million donation to support ongoing relief efforts following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico.

Mike Teevan of MLB Communications provided MLB's statement:

MLB previously announced a joint $1 million donation with the MLB Players Association following Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Dave Graham and Robin Respaut of Reuters reported Hurricane Maria, which killed at least 25 people as it moved through the Caribbean, left the entire island of Puerto Rico without power and that dangers are ongoing because of the potential collapse of an earthen dam.

An early damage estimate from the storm was set at $80 million, per Luis Ferre-Sadurni and Frances Robles of the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Jason Hanna, Rosa Flores and Ed Lavandera of CNN reported Central Mexico was struck by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake Tuesday that led to at least 298 deaths. The search for potential survivors has continued.

Mexico had already been hit with an 8.1-magnitude earthquake Sept. 8, and a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck the country Saturday morning.

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