Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte getting close to returning

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Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte participated in a simulated game this morning, according to Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger.

With Reggie Jackson calling balls and strikes and Yankees manager Joe Girardi observing, Pettitte threw 50 pitches over three simulated innings against A-Rod, Greg Golson and Ramiro Pena. He reported no problems with left groin.

“It felt better each inning I went out there,” Pettitte said. “I felt
like the last inning I turned it up pretty good and wasn’t worrying
about anything at all.”

The veteran left-hander hopes to throw a bullpen session Monday before facing live hitters Wednesday, either in the form of another simulated game or in the minor leagues. Barring any setbacks, he still has enough time to make a couple starts before the end of the regular season.

As for Rodriguez, in addition to facing Pettitte, he participated in batting practice, took grounders and ran the bases. 

“I feel good,” he said. “It was an encouraging day. No setbacks.”

He declined to say whether he would be activated from the disabled list when he is eligible tomorrow, but all signs are pointing in that direction. Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since August 21 due to a left calf strain.

For all the problems the Yankees have had with their rotation lately, things are looking pretty good for the Yankees right now. They enter play Saturday with a seven-game winning streak and lead the Rays by 1 1/2 games in the American League East.

Report: Yoenis Cespedes to opt out of contract with Mets

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 20:  Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets hits an rbi double scoring Jose Reyes #7 against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning at AT&T Park on August 20, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will opt out of his contract shortly after the World Series concludes. Cespedes, who earned $17.5 million for the 2016 season, has two years and $47.5 million remaining on his deal which includes an opt-out clause.

That Cespedes plans to opt out isn’t surprising as he’s almost certain to get a better contract entering a weak free agent market. He hit a terrific .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI in 543 plate appearances for the Mets this past season.

It remains to be seen how the Mets will deal with potentially losing Cespedes. They can pick up a $13 million club option for Jay Bruce, but he performed terribly after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. The Mets could also go after free agents Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo. Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto will handle the other two outfield positions.

David Ortiz and Kris Bryant win 2016 Hank Aaron Awards

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  (L-R) Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer 2016 Hank Aaron, Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred and David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox pose during the Hank Aaron Award ceremony prior to Game Two of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.

Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.

Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.

Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.