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Michael Morse could be back with the Nationals at the start of June

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Here’s some rare good news for the Nationals on the injury front.

The original goal was for Michael Morse to be ready to return from his torn right lat on June 8 so he could be eased back into the lineup as the designated hitter during interleague play, but Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com today that the 30-year-old slugger hopes be ready as soon as June 1.

“That was my day [June 8],” Johnson said. “I threw that out there trying to give the trainers and the doctors a date that I wanted him back swinging, because he could DH against the American League clubs on the eighth. We’d been set for that for about three weeks, and he came to me and said: ‘When you come off the road trip, I’ll be ready.’ But he’s feeling his oats.”

Morse has only recently resumed swinging a bat and playing catch after being shut down in April, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready by then. He plans to go to extended spring training in Viera, Florida next week to get some at-bats and could head out on a minor league rehab assignment from there if all goes well.

Morse, 30, has a .298/.357/.539 batting line to go along with 46 homers, 136 RBI and an .896 OPS in 244 games dating back to the start of the 2010 season. He should provide a major boost to the Nationals’ offense, as their left fielders enter tonight’s action with a major-league worst .154 batting average and .511 OPS.

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.