Erik Bedard, heated garages, and playing catch with your brother

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Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle has an amusing look at what Erik Bedard did to stay in shape while spending the offseason at home in Ontario, Canada and waiting for what became a minor-league contract from the Astros:

Bedard walked to a plastic pitching mound inside his 70-foot heated garage, waited for his 30-year-old brother Mark to get off work at 4 p.m., and finally started hurling. By the end of Bedard’s garage run, it was minus-20 degrees in Ottawa.

Bedard has earned around $30 million playing baseball and even his minor-league deal with the Astros will pay what is in the non-baseball world a huge amount of money if he makes the team. Given that there’s an argument to be made for Bedard hiring someone–a professional catcher, a pitching coach, whatever–to work with him during the offseason or at least paying his brother enough so that the throwing schedule doesn’t revolve around his work hours.

But that wouldn’t be as fun, probably.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.

Cardinals activate Adam Wainwright from the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds that pitcher Adam Wainwright has been activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Wainwright, 36, has been absent since mid-August due to a right elbow impingement. The Cardinals plan to use him out of the bullpen through the end of the season. Prior to the injury, the right-hander posted a disappointing 5.12 ERA with a 96/44 K/BB ratio in 121 1/3 innings.

Wainwright is under contract for one more year at $19.5 million before becoming eligible for free agency.