Grant Balfour expected to rejoin A’s bullpen Thursday

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Assuming his rehab outing at Triple-A goes well tomorrow night Grant Balfour is expected to come off the disabled list Thursday, according to Jane Lee of MLB.com

Balfour has been out for the past two weeks with a strained oblique muscle, but reported no problems following a bullpen session yesterday and told Lee: “I want to be ready now.”

He’s expected to resume eighth-inning setup duties in front of closer Andrew Bailey. In the first season of a two-year, $8 million deal, Balfour was dominant with a 2.48 ERA, .198 opponents’ batting average, and 35 strikeouts in 33 innings prior to the DL stint.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.