Erick Aybar hoping to return from knee injury this weekend

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Erick Aybar has avoided the disabled list after suffering an ugly looking knee injury on Casey McGehee’s takeout slide last week and manager Mike Scioscia said yesterday that the shortstop is on the verge of returning.
According to Scioscia “he did great” and “got a glowing report” while taking batting practice, running, and fielding ground balls prior to Thursday’s game, making it likely that “he’ll be available this weekend” in at least a part-time role.
“I’m ready to get back out there,” Aybar told Lyle Spencer of MLB.com. “I feel normal. If it was up to me, I’d play today.”
Aybar was just starting to heat up before the injury, batting .340 with six steals in his previous 25 games. Maicer Izturis coming down with an injury of his own shortly after Aybar was knocked out of the lineup has left Brandon Wood filling in at shortstop, but he hasn’t played particularly well (shocking, I know) and will now have to fight the hot-hitting Kevin Frandsen for starts at third base.

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.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.