Papi says AL 'can't wait to kick some you-know-what'

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Boston Red Sox slugger — and newly-crowned Home Run Derby champion David Ortiz held court shortly after taking batting practice today, and had some interesting things to say, including a grand proclamation for tonight’s All-Star game: yet more dominance for the American League.

“Oh definitely (the AL will win),” he said. “No question. It’s on, baby. We’ve got some guys going crazy in the clubhouse, can’t wait to kick some you-know-what.”

Ortiz didn’t seem too scared of NL starter Ubaldo Jimenez, either, but not just because the Red Sox roughed up Jimenez this season.

“Well let me tell you, he’s only going to go two innings right?” he said. “Not too much to worry about. Jimenez, he’s got to be one of the best pitchers in the game, no question. But he’ll pitch his two innings and pack it. Take it to the house.”

I assume, Papi knows that the NL bullpen has some decent pitchers, but we’ll give him a pass simply for sheer entertainment value.

Ortiz also talked about the passing of George Steinbrenner, which has obviously dominated talk here. His own team will hold a moment of silence on Thursday in honor of The Boss, and Ortiz made it clear that Steinbrenner’s impact overshadows any kind of Yankees-Red Sox hatred.

“I have a lot of respect for Mr. Steinbrenner. This is a time where you don’t even worry about the rivalry or who you play for,” he said. “This is a guy who has done a lot for baseball, has done a lot of good things for a lot of people in general. In a situation like this, we need to give a lot of respect to him and his family, and let his family know that we are all thinking about him.”

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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.