This “just in” — Justin Morneau can still hit dingers. The Twins first baseman hit two of them this afternoon against the White Sox: a grand slam in the seventh off of Ramon Troncoso to give the Twins a 5-3 lead, and a solo shot in the eighth to remove the save opportunity for closer Glen Perkins by bumping the score to 7-3. Perkins gave up two runs in the ninth on an Alexei Ramirez single, but held on for the 7-5 victory in game one of the day-night doubleheader.
August has been kind to Morneau thus far. In 36 trips to the plate, he has hit five home runs and has only struck out five times. He entered the afternoon 8-for-11 with the bases loaded, but with no grand slams. The slam is his first since July 20, 2009 when he took Gio Gonzalez of the Athletics deep in a wacky 14-13 loss.
The Twins and White Sox match up again shortly as Liam Hendriks is scheduled to face off against Charles Leesman, making his Major League debut for the White Sox.
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.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
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.