Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria returns, Matt Joyce sits for Rays

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The good news is that the Rays have Evan Longoria back tonight after the All-Star third baseman missed three games with strep throat.

The bad is that the team’s best hitter this year, Matt Joyce, is absent with what the Rays are calling “post-injection soreness” in his left shoulder.

Joyce received his second cortisone shot of the year due to lingering soreness in the shoulder and is dealing with pain around the injection area.  He’s expected to be available to pinch-hit tonight, and the Rays are optimistic that he’ll be back in the lineup on Saturday.

Joyce is second in the AL in batting average this year. Having falled into a bit of a slump, he’s recently tumbled from second to fourth in OPS, with Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz now in the place and show positions behind Jose Bautista.  Joyce is hitting .338/.397/.590 with 10 homers and 34 RBI in 195 at-bats.

Since Joyce probably isn’t going to hit .340 all year, it’d help the Rays a lot if Longoria could step it up.  He’s hitting .252/.360/.435 with just 13 RBI in 115 at-bats.  He finished with an OPS in the .870-.890 range in each of his first three big-league seasons, but he’s at .795 right now.

Shawn Tolleson becomes a free agent

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The Rangers outrighted reliever Shawn Tolleson off the 40-man roster on Wednesday. Rather than accept the assignment to Triple-A Round Rock, Tolleson has opted to become a free agent, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake reports.

Tolleson, 28, emerged as a closer for the Rangers in 2015, but his follow-up campaign this year was dreadful. He finished with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He eventually went on the 60-day disabled list with a back injury.

Despite the nightmarish season, it’s easy to see a team deciding to take a flier on Tolleson for the 2017 season.

Indians strongly considering starting Carlos Santana in left field sans DH

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the third inning against Marco Estrada #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians slugger Carlos Santana hasn’t played in the outfield in a major league game since 2012, but the Indians are strongly considering starting him in left field for Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field on Friday,’s Jordan Bastian reports. As the game is hosted in a National League park, there is no DH rule in effect, so the Indians might otherwise have to keep Santana on the bench.

Santana is hitless in six at-bats in the World Series thus far, but he has drawn two walks. He has overall not had a great postseason, carrying an aggregate .564 OPS in 40 plate appearances since the beginning of the playoffs. Still, during the regular season, he had an .865 OPS so he can certainly be a threat on offense at any given moment.