Rehab central: Peavy, Hudson and Boone

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In a story you can’t help but be impressed by — unless you’re a Red Sox fan — Aaron Boone played in his second minor league rehab game of the week on Wednesday, going 1-for-2 at the plate for the Corpus Christi Hooks, a Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.

Boone, 36, is trying to return to the majors after having heart surgery in late March because of a congenital defect in his aortic valve.

He hopes to return to the Astros sometime this season after rosters are expanded on Sept. 1.

Meanwhile in other injury news, two prominent pitchers — Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson — made rehab starts on Thursday. Both could make huge impacts on their teams’ playoff hopes if they manage to get healthy.

Peavy, acquired by the White Sox at the trade deadline, tossed three sparkling innings for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights in his first start since June 8. He struck out five and allowed one hit and one walk in three scoreless innings.

Peavy, who is recovering from a strained tendon in his ankle, pitched out of the stretch in the third inning in an attempt to get comfortable in that situation. Now it’s just a matter of building strength.

I don’t feel like I’m as strong as I’m going to be. I did three innings tonight. I’m a long way from going eight-nine innings.”

Peavy is scheduled to start for Charlotte again on Tuesday, and hopes to join the White Sox by late August or early September.

Hudson, the Braves right-hander recovering from Tommy John surgery, started slowly before putting in four solid innings for Triple-A Gwinnett. Hudson gave up two runs in the first inning as he attempted to shake off the rust. He allowed five hits and struck out three in four innings, throwing 42 of his 63 pitches for strikes.

All in all, Hudson was pleased. Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

With Braves teammates Brian McCann and Adam LaRoche watching from the front row at Gwinnett Stadium, Hudson was hitting 92 mph on scouts’ radar guns. The stadium radar gun was low, but Hudson was told his fastball was 90-93 mph, his cut fastball 87-89 mph.

“I’m really happy with how my cutter is right now,” Hudson said. “And I’ve thrown some really good [split-finger fastballs], and that’s obviously tested my elbow really good.”

If everything continues smoothly, a return to the Braves could come after two or three more minor league starts.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.