gutierrez getty

Franklin Gutierrez making progress, takes 25 swings

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Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez took a significant step forward Thursday in his ongoing recovery from a torn left pectoral muscle, swinging a bat through the air 25 times without discomfort.

This according to 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer.

Gutierrez had been limited this week to pool workouts, but he reported feeling strong when he arrived at Mariners camp on Thursday morning and was allowed to progress to dry-land swinging. M’s head trainer Rick Griffin was impressed with the results:

“It went well,” Griffin told Drayer on Thursday night. “You could tell he was a little hesitant at first, he thought he might feel it (pectoral muscle) but about half way through he let go and took a good swing and said it felt great.”

Gutierrez is expected to be ready to make his regular-season debut by the end of April. The 29-year-old batted just .224/.261/.273 in 344 plate appearances last year while fighting oblique and stomach issues.

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.