Emilio Bonifacio

Emilio Bonifacio delivers second straight four-hit game

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Emilio Bonifacio is enjoying his return to the National League with the Cubs; he delivered his second straight four-hit game Wednesday against the Pirates, making him just the fifth player in 100 years to have two in a team’s first two games.

The last four to do it:

Ira Flagstead – 1926 Red Sox (went 8-for-11 against the Yankees)
Showboat Fisher – 1930 Cardinals (8-for-10 against the Cubs)
Wade Boggs – 1994 Yankees (8-for-10 against Rangers)
Dante Bichette – 1998 Rockies (8-for-10 against Diamondbacks)

Less spectacular than Bonifacio’s hitting has been his baserunning. He was picked off first base for the second time in two games Wednesday. He would have been picked off twice on Monday, but first baseman Travis Ishikawa dropped the throw the first time.

Bonifacio was picked up by the Cubs after being designated for assignment by the Royals on Feb. 1 and going unclaimed on waivers. The Royals had previously signed him to a one-year, $3.5 million contract, so they’re paying him $583,333 this year (one-sixth of the original amount), and the Cubs are paying him $2.5 million, with the possibility of $425,000 in bonuses. He’s being used as a utilityman by the Cubs, having started in center field and at second base the first two games.

Update: Bonifacio picked up a fifth hit in the 15th, making him the first player in at least 100 years to start off with nine hits in a team’s first two games.

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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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.

It’s not known yet what kind of contract the two sides are negotiating. It could be a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, a non-guaranteed major league contract, or a guaranteed major league contract.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.