MLB trying to grow the game in China

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There’s a neat article up at the Washington Post today about Major League Baseball’s inroads to China.  Compared to the population and, really, compared to interest in basketball and other sports, China’s interest in baseball is really low. But even a low percentage of Chinese population is huge, so it’s understandable that baseball would like to try to tap into that market.

There’s a slide show that accompanies the article. Two takeaways: (1) the sheer number of official MLB logos on the players and around the park at the Chinese training camp baseball has set up; and (2) photo number four, in which baseball presents pics of various major leaguers to demonstrate batting stances.

The logos are weird. If, as I suspect, the league wants to make inroads in China to help sell merch, you’d think they’d give everyone team logos or something cooler than the old Mr. Major League Baseball thing. Maybe I’m over thinking this, though.

I love that they include Vlad Guerrero among guys like Bonds, A-Rod and Miguel Cabrera in the batting stance thing. I just hope they’re not using video of his hitting style to teach the Chinese. That would set back their baseball program two or three decades.

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.