Mauer talks are still progressing

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Ken Rosenthal writes that, despite the fact that things have been quiet on the Joe Mauer front, negotiations are still progressing and that the lack of any public talk about it doesn’t mean that there’s an impasse or anything close to it, as some have suggested.

There was some chatter in the press box at the Phillies-Twins game the other day about how the Twins are finding time to do things like extend Denard Span and Nick Blackburn contracts while Mauer remains in limbo. One thought — and this is my own thinking, not anything I heard — perhaps Mauer has suggested to the Twins that he’d like to see long term commitments to the supporting cast before he goes all-in, lest he find himself the only established player on the team one day a la Adrian Gonzalez or someone.

Other possibility: the Twins are simply trying to give themselves cost certainty with respect to Blackburn and Span on the theory that once they pull the trigger with Mauer, there’s not going to be much room for uncertainty in the arbitration process.

I realize that neither of these are the deepest thoughts in the world, but it seems like some Twins fans’ nerves get a little more frayed every day we get closer to Opening Day without Mauer being signed. My view? Nothing that has happened yet should give anyone cause for concern.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.

Dodgers can clinch NL West on Friday

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The Dodgers staved off a four-game series sweep at the hands of the Phillies, winning 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The win reduced their magic number in the NL West to one, meaning that a win against the Giants at home or a Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins on Friday will result in clinching the division.

Of course, the Dodgers winning and the Diamondbacks losing hasn’t exactly been a sure thing lately. The D-Backs rattled off a 13-game winning streak from August 24 through September 6. The Dodgers lost 11 games in a row from September 2-11 and were on a four-game slide before Thursday’s win.

The Dodgers will send Rich Hill to the mound to start opposite Jeff Samardzija. The Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke opposing Adam Conley.