Neil Walker rejoins Pirates after appendectomy

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Pittsburgh will activate second baseman Neil Walker from the disabled list for tonight’s game after he missed the past two weeks following an appendectomy.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that Walker was slated to play in a minor-league rehab game Monday, but decided instead to rejoin the Pirates and take some swings during rehabbing right-hander Gerrit Cole’s simulated game. That apparently went well enough that the Pirates are convinced he’s ready to return.

Walker could serve as the designated hitter because the Pirates are playing the Rays in Tampa Bay, but manager Clint Hurdle will use him at second base, saying: “I don’t have any hesitation to play him in the field.”

Rays trade Jake Odorizzi to Twins

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The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.

With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.

Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.