Roy Halladay to begin rehab assignment Thursday, could return later this month

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Nearly three months removed from right shoulder surgery, Roy Halladay is ready to return to game action.

According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon that Halladay will begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with the team’s Gulf Coast League affiliate. He was given the go-ahead after making it through a simulated game Saturday and a bullpen session earlier today.

Halladay is slated to throw about 80-85 pitches on Thursday. Amaro indicated that he could require just two rehab starts, which would place his return in the final week of August.

“If everything continues to go in a straight line, he could be back after two (rehab) starts,” Amaro said. “But it depends on how he feels. You can’t crystal-ball it.”

Halladay posted an uncharacteristic 8.65 ERA over seven starts prior to surgery in May to have a bone spur removed from his right shoulder as well as a partially torn rotator cuff and frayed labrum repaired. While the Phillies will be playing out the string over the final five weeks of the season, it will present Halladay with an opportunity to showcase his health and effectiveness. The 36-year-old is due to hit free agency this offseason.

Padres, Mariners join list of teams to extend netting

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The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.

A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.