Mike Napoli on track to be activated from disabled list Saturday

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After missing the past month with a strained left quad muscle, Mike Napoli is on track to be activated from the disabled list Saturday.

Napoli is 1-for-6 with a homer in two rehab games this week with Double-A Frisco. Perhaps more importantly, he has caught 15 innings without incident. He is scheduled to get one final tuneup tomorrow as the the designated hitter before being activated. While he isn’t quite 100 percent, he told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he is satisfied with his progress.

“I feel good enough,” Napoli said. “I’ll go get some at-bats tomorrow and be ready to go. I don’t think I’m running at full speed, but I’m able to run around the bases at a decent pace and I feel good catching. I tried to do everything I could to test it and it felt good. The big thing was being behind the plate. Everything is good.”

Napoli, 30, is batting .223/.343/.429 with 17 home runs, 40 RBI and a .771 OPS in 92 games played this season. He’s due to become a free agent this offseason, so he should be plenty motivated to finish strong.

Geovany Soto has struggled as the regular catcher during Napoli’s absence, batting just .216/.277/.343 with three home runs, 17 RBI and a .620 OPS in 33 games since coming over from the Cubs in late July. Even though Napoli has been a disappointment this year, he should be a major upgrade if healthy.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.