SEATTLE — The Tampa Bay Rays continue to bolster their bullpen for the pennant race, acquiring reliever Steve Cishek from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for versatile right-hander Erasmo Ramirez.

It was a surprising deal announced Friday by teams that are competing for the same thing, a wild-card spot in the American League. Tampa Bay began the day in the second wild-card spot in the AL, with Seattle just 3 games behind.

Cishek has appeared in 23 games this season after recovering from major offseason hip surgery. He is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA, mostly working in the seventh and eighth innings. He was a closer in the past with the Marlins.

Ramirez appeared in 26 games, with eight starts, for the Rays and was 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA.

DODGERS: Clayton Kershaw participated in a pregame catch, a brief workout that could force the team to re-think its timetable for the injured ace.

The Dodgers said it would be 4 to 6 weeks before Kershaw returned to the mound after a back injury forced him out of his last start. That caution lasted four days.

“For him to get the go-ahead to start playing catch again, I think that’s ahead of where we all anticipated, so I’m going to be cautiously optimistic,” said Manager Dave Roberts.

ASTROS: Outfielder George Springer was placed on the 10-day disabled list because of left quadriceps discomfort.

INTERNATIONAL GAMES: Major League Baseball plans to start the 2019 and 2020 seasons in Asia and play regular-season games in England in June of both years, according to a schedule of international play included in the collective bargaining agreement made in November and finalized Friday.

A two-game series between Cleveland and Minnesota in San Juan, Puerto Rico, already has been announced for next April 17-18, and the agreement calls for an additional series in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic in May 2020.

Series in Mexico are planned for each April from 2018-21 and for May in 2019 and 2021.


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