Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox

Slumping Carl Crawford benched for today’s game

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Carl Crawford is on the bench for today’s game against the Blue Jays, one day after going 0-for-5 and seeing his batting average dip to .137 (7-for-51) to begin the season.

Crawford heard plenty of boos from the Fenway Park crowd after striking out on three pitches against Jon Rauch in the ninth inning last night, but tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com that he understands their frustration.

“They have to boo. I’m playing real bad — and we’re playing real bad as a team,” said Crawford. “You definitely understand. You can’t be upset about that. You feel their frustration a little bit. We’re frustrated, too.”

As Speier notes, among the 207 hitters who currently qualify for the batting title, Crawford ranks 202nd in batting average, 205th in OBP (.185) and 206th in OPS. Granted, we’re talking about a really small sample size here, but yikes. The Red Sox are batting just .224 as a team and have scored only 46 runs, so it’s pretty easy to see why they’re 2-10 right now.

Crawford is obviously better than what he’s shown until now, but it’s not uncommon for a player to struggle after signing a big money contract. To name two recent notable examples, Mark Teixeira batted .200 in April after signing with the Yankees while Carlos Beltran’s offensive numbers were merely pedestrian in his first season with the Mets in 2005. Of course, they both eventually turned things around in their new digs, so there’s plenty of reason to believe this is just an ill-timed speed bump for Crawford.

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.