Braves hire Greg Walker as new hitting coach

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Greg Walker stepped down as the White Sox’s hitting coach immediately after the season and it didn’t take him long to find a new gig, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting that Walker has agreed to become the Braves’ new hitting coach.

Walker also interviewed for the Padres’ job, but given how frequently San Diego has cycled through hitting coaches since moving into Petco Park he’s probably better off in Atlanta.

Walker generally has a solid reputation among players and media members, but the White Sox finished 10th or worse among AL teams in scoring three times in the past five seasons. Atlanta fired hitting coach Larry Parrish last month after finishing 10th among NL teams in scoring this season.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.