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Chris Carpenter cleared to begin throwing program

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The Cardinals were shut out by Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies on Saturday evening at Busch Stadium and have fallen a game-and-a-half behind the Reds in the National League Central standings. But the Budweiser should be flowing as steadily as usual on Memorial Day weekend in the Gateway to the West.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, veteran right-hander Chris Carpenter “recently began throwing into a net” and will soon progress to regular flat-ground games of catch.

Carpenter has been sidelined since the middle of spring training with nerve issues in his neck and shoulder, and is refraining from projecting a return date. But it’s feasible that he could be ready in six weeks.

“It’s about going day to day, step by step,” the 37-year-old told the Post-Dispatch. “I’m not getting very far ahead. The hope is that everything continues to progress. That’s pretty much where I’m at now.”

Carp registered a 3.45 ERA and 191/55 K/BB ratio across 237 1/3 regular-season innings (34 starts) in 2011.

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.