Pirates send Gift Ngoepe, the first African-born major leaguer, to the minors

The Pittsburgh Pirates have optioned infielder Gift Ngoepe to the minor leagues about a month after he debuted as the first African-born player in the majors.

The slick-fielding South African singled in his first plate appearance last month, but batted .222 without a homer in 28 games before his demotion.

Ngoepe picked up baseball as a child because his family lived in the clubhouse of a men’s league ballpark where his mother worked. His younger brother, Victor, is also a Pirates minor leaguer.

The elder Ngoepe is headed to triple-A Indianapolis. Manager Clint Hurdle says he told the 27-year-old to work on his two-strike approach and small-ball hitting. Hurdle told him that if he shows those skills next time he comes to the majors, “you can stay.”


The Pirates also designated rookie infielder Alen Hanson for assignment and recalled infielders Max Moroff and Phil Gosselin on Friday.


The Seattle Mariners placed shortstop Jean Segura on the 10-day disabled list Friday with a right high-ankle sprain. Designated hitter Nelson Cruz won’t be joining him on the DL despite being hit on his left hand by a pitch. Manager Scott Servais said it would probably be a week before Segura is re-evaluated. Segura is tied for the AL lead with a .341 batting average. … Boston Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday after re-injuring his knee on a fall from the bullpen mound. Rodriguez slipped off the mound during the latter stage of his warmup for Thursday night’s start against the Baltimore Orioles. He declared himself OK, but ended up allowing a career-high tying four home runs in Boston’s 7-5 loss. Rodriguez, 24, is 4-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 11 games, 10 of them starts. … Sam Dyson has been designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers after the latest loss by their former closer. The right-hander was removed from the closer role in early May, and has blown all four of his save chances this season. The Rangers reinstated reliever Jose Leclerc from the disabled list. He missed three weeks after he bruised a finger. ..

The Atlanta Braves activated left-hander Eric O’Flaherty and infielder Adonis Garcia off the disabled list., The club also called up infielder Johan Camargo from triple-A Gwinnett. Outfielder Emilio Bonifacio was designated for assignment, and infielder Jace Peterson and right-hander Matt Wisler were optioned to triple-A to open roster spots. … The St. Louis Cardinals have recalled outfielder Magneuris Sierra from double-A Springfield. The 21-year-old Sierra made his major league debut last month and hit .367 (11 for 30) in seven games before he was sent down when infielder Jhonny Peralta was activated from the disabled list. Sierra takes the roster spot of infielder Jedd Gyorko, who was placed on paternity leave after Thursday’s 2-0 victory over the Dodgers. Gyorko is expected to return to the team in time for Sunday night’s series finale. …


Dexter Fowler played his first game at Wrigley Field on Friday since he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals over the winter. The Chicago Cubs welcomed him with open arms — and one shiny, gleaming present. Fowler received his World Series ring from Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward during a pregame ceremony, drawing loud cheers on a picturesque day at the iconic neighborhood ballpark. Fowler then posed for a picture with his former teammates, manager Joe Maddon, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, and general manager Jed Hoyer. “I finally got my ring,” Fowler said after St. Louis’ 3-2 loss. “I haven’t gotten a chance to look at it but they treated me first-class. That was awesome.”

Get our daily Sports Report newsletter