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Former NL batting champ Dee Strange-Gordon released by Reds after spring training invite

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GOODYEAR, Arizona — The Cincinnati Reds on Friday released Dee Strange-Gordon, a non-roster invitee to spring training who auditioned at shortstop.

Strange-Gordon, a 32-year-old former All-Star and NL batting champ, got a shot with Cincinnati after Freddy Galvis signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles.

But Strange-Gordon’s chances were hurt by the team’s decision to move Eugenio Suarez from third base to shortstop, and by good spring performances from versatile infielders Jonathan India and Alex Blandino.

Strange-Gordon, who spent his past three, mostly injury-plagued seasons with the Seattle Mariners, hit .281 in 12 spring training games with four RBIs and four stolen bases.

He would have received a $1 million salary in the major leagues if added to the 40-man roster, plus the chance to earn $600,000 in performance bonuses for games played.

Strange-Gordon won the league batting title in 2015 as Seattle’s second baseman and was a two-time All Star.

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Atlanta Braves stay busy, acquire Stephen Vogt from Arizona Diamondbacks

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ATLANTA — Trying to fill another injury hole with a trade, the Atlanta Braves acquired veteran catcher Stephen Vogt from the Arizona Diamondbacks late Friday night for minor league first baseman Mason Berne.

The 36-year-old Vogt, a two-time All-Star with Oakland, batted .212 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 52 games for the major-league-worst Diamondbacks this season. He has thrown out 10 of 30 runners attempting to steal.

The move came one night after the Braves obtained Joc Pederson in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, bolstering their outfield after recently losing star slugger Ronald Acuna Jr. to a season-ending knee injury.

Atlanta, hoping to chase down the New York Mets and win its fourth straight National League East title, has struggled to replace injured catcher Travis d’Arnaud this year with the likes of Kevan Smith, William Contreras and Jonathan Lucroy.

Following a big 2020 season, d’Arnaud has played only 23 games this year and is on the 60-day injured list with torn ligaments in his left thumb. He has been progressing but is not expected back until next month.

The third-place Braves (44-46) are four games behind the NL East-leading Mets, with Philadelphia (45-45) in between.

Berne, 25, was 3-for-12 (.250) with a home run in five games in the low minors with the FCL Braves this season.

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Shohei Ohtani donated Home Run Derby earnings to Los Angeles Angels’ staff members

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani donated his winnings from this week’s Home Run Derby to members of the Los Angeles Angels‘ support staff, according to multiple reports.

The news was first reported by the OC Register.

Ohtani donated the $150,000 he received to more than a couple of dozen people, including clubhouse staff, trainers and members of the media relations department, the reports said. The two-way Japanese sensation handed out the checks before the Angels’ game Friday night against the Seattle Mariners.

Besides becoming the first Japanese player to participate in the home run derby, Ohtani was the first player in All-Star Game history to be selected as both a pitcher and a hitter. He threw a perfect first inning and was 0 for 2 in the AL’s 5-2 victory on Tuesday.

Ohtani was the top seed in Monday’s Derby but was eliminated in the first round after he lost a swing-off to Washington’s Juan Soto.

Pete Alonso of the New York Mets won the Derby and took the $1 million prize. Baltimore’s Trey Mancini was second and took home $500,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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San Diego Padres’ Jake Cronenworth hits for cycle vs. Washington Nationals

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WASHINGTON — San Diego Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth hit for the cycle for the first time in his major league career Friday night against the Washington Nationals.

After lining out in the first inning, Cronenworth had a two-run double in the second, an RBI triple in the third, a solo homer in the fifth and an infield single against the shift in the sixth.

Cronenworth’s cycle was the third in Padres’ history, following Matt Kemp (2015) and Wil Myers (2017). Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies is the only other player to hit for the cycle against the Nationals (2005 to present), accomplishing the feat on the final day of the 2018 season.

The 27-year-old Cronenworth is batting .276 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs.

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