Rick Ankiel likely sidelined through the weekend

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Rick Ankiel got off to a great start with the Royals, hitting .308 with three homers and three doubles through 11 games, but then went into a 1-for-21 slump that dropped his OPS nearly 250 points and suffered a strained right quadriceps muscle while running out a ground ball Saturday.
Ankiel hasn’t played since the injury, sitting out five straight games, and Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that he’s unlikely to rejoin the lineup before Monday. However, manager Trey Hillman said the Royals aren’t thinking about placing Ankiel on the disabled list because they “want that bat available off the bench as a pinch-hitter.”
Ankiel started 16 of the first 17 games in center field as part of Kansas City’s touted “three center fielders” outfield, but it was really more like a “three corner outfielders who at some point played center field” outfield because Ankiel has never graded out well there and Scott Podsednik doesn’t even look very good in left field at this point.
Not surprisingly the Royals’ outfield has combined for an Ultimate Zone Rating of -2.7 runs this season to rank 19th in baseball, although Ankiel’s center field replacement, Mitch Maier, has actually posted a positive number while filling in this week.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.