Joe Maddon, John Hirschbeck

John Hirschbeck leads All-Star game umpiring crew

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Sadly, the All-Star game festivities will have to go on without Joe West this year.

MLB just announced the umpiring assignments and baseball’s biggest instigator did not get the call. Instead it’ll be 30-year veteran John Hirschbeck as crew chief calling balls and strikes, along with Wally Bell (first base), Larry Vanover (second base), Paul Emmel (third base), Rob Drake (left field), and Chad Fairchild (right field).

Baseball Writers Association of America president and A’s beat reporter Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle will serve as one of the official scorers.

And while they’re not technically umpiring the All-Star game, I’m confident that West can still find a way to eject someone, Bob Davidson can find a way to call a balk, and Angel Hernandez can botch a replay call.

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.