Brian McCann likely to begin minor league rehab assignment Friday

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As Aaron mentioned earlier this morning, Brian McCann has maintained all along that he was hoping to return from the disabled list as soon as he is eligible on Friday.

It was probably a little on the optimistic side considering that oblique strains usually sideline players for far longer, so it shouldn’t come as a major surprise that the Braves have decided to go the conservative route. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that McCann will likely wait until Friday to begin a minor league rehab assignment.

McCann just took batting practice for the first time yesterday, so the prospect of playing in a rehab game as soon as tomorrow was probably pushing it a bit. If he does indeed begin his rehab assignment Friday, he will likely be activated on Sunday or Monday, instead. Still, we’re talking about a pretty rapid turnaround from an oblique injury.

McCann, 27, is batting .306/.375/.514 with 18 home runs and 55 RBI over 373 plate appearances this season. He is currently tied with J.P. Arencibia and Mike Napoli for home run lead among MLB catchers while only Napoli has a higher OPS.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.