Brian McCann AP

Brian McCann could miss all of April rehabbing from shoulder surgery

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We already knew that Brian McCann wasn’t going to be ready for Opening Day after right shoulder surgery, but there’s a chance that the Braves could be without him for the entire first month of the season.

According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, Braves general manager Frank Wren confirmed this morning that McCann will not play in a minor league game before April 16. That would put him six months removed from shoulder surgery. It’s not clear how many rehab games he’ll need to play, but it’s possible that he won’t be ready to rejoin the Braves until the end of April or perhaps later.

McCann was cleared to take batting practice at the end of February, but since he’s still building strength in his shoulder, throwing is the biggest challenge. He’s currently limited to long-toss exercises from a distance of 120 feet and isn’t ready to make strong throws down to second base.

Gerald Laird, who joined the Braves this winter on a two-year, $3 million contract, is expected to function as the primary catcher during McCann’s absence. Evan Gattis and Matt Pagnozzi are currently competing for the backup gig.

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.