Josh Hamilton close to 100 percent healthy six weeks after fracturing ribs

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You wouldn’t know it based on his homering four times in six games against the Yankees, but Josh Hamilton played the ALCS while still somewhat limited by the fractured ribs that caused him to miss nearly all of September.

Unfortunately for the Giants, the MVP candidate said yesterday that he’s now close to 100 percent healthy six weeks after suffering the injury while crashing into the outfield wall in Minnesota.

Here’s what Hamilton told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com:

I’m pretty sure the breaks have healed up. The muscle is there at times, but it’s not affecting anything on the field. Every once in a while I feel the muscle, but I just keep it loose and massaged good and it’s fine. You do all that preparation as a precautionary thing so you don’t get hurt and you can play 162 games. I think I’ve really come up with a plan that works, minus hitting any walls.

Hamilton was just 2-for-18 (.111) with six strikeouts in the ALDS win over the Rays, but went 7-for-20 (.350) with four homers, three steals, seven RBIs, and five intentional walks in the ALCS thrashing of the Yankees.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.