Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles

Brian Roberts unlikely to attend fan event due to concussion, but Orioles want him to sign autographs

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Brian Roberts missed the final four months of last season due to aggravating a concussion suffered in 2010 and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the second baseman is not expected to attend the Orioles’ “fan fest” event as he continues to struggle with post-concussion symptoms 16 months after the initial injury.

Roberts was scheduled to attend the event and the Orioles have sold tickets to get his autograph, prompting executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette to say:

I hope he goes to the autograph session. I don’t really know any reason he can’t show up to sign autographs for 10-year-old kids. I am not aware of anything that would prohibit him from doing that.

Duquette is new to the job and Roberts has been in Baltimore for the past 11 seasons, so that’s not exactly a great way for their relationship to begin. Roberts, like Justin Morneau and Jason Bay and several other players in recent years, is trying to fight his way back from a maddeningly unpredictable injury that can ruin careers, so while the physical act of signing some autographs may not seem like much of an effort the fact is that concussions can make seemingly innocuous activities a major struggle.

And whatever the case, publicly calling out the longest-tenured member of the team within your first couple months of taking the job seems like a mistake. The bigger concern, of course, is that if Roberts can’t sign autographs in mid-January what are the odds he’ll be able to play baseball games in March?

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.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.