Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann on track to return next week

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According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey said that Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann “did well” during their bullpen sessions Monday.

Davis and Niemann were placed on the disabled list early last week due to shoulder strains. Barring any setbacks, Hickey said they should be on track to be activated next week against the Angels. Davis is projected to pitch next Tuesday, while Niemann will start next Wednesday.

Andy Sonnanstine and rookie left-hander Jeremy Hellickson have filled in during their respective absences, however they are expected to be moved to the bullpen next week.

It’s not like Hellickson deserves it. The 23-year-old right-hander is the first pitcher in the modern era to pitch at least six innings while allowing three hits or fewer in each of his first three major league appearances. He tossed six innings of one-run ball in a win over the Orioles on Sunday. It’s actually a pretty nice problem to have.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.