Juan Rivera ahead of schedule in return from torn hamstring

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Juan Rivera was initially scheduled to miss two months with a ruptured hamstring, but Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that the veteran outfielder/first baseman is “healing faster than expected.”

Barring a setback Rivera could begin a minor-league rehab assignment shortly and Gurnick speculates that he might be cleared to come off the disabled list as soon as the middle of next week.

Rivera’s injury opened the door for Bobby Abreu to take a big role in the Dodgers’ outfield and he’s hit .314 with five doubles and an .848 OPS in 18 games, so Rivera may be returning to the short end of a platoon role. And platooning the right-handed-hitting Rivera with the left-handed-hitting Abreu could be a very productive arrangement for Los Angeles, albeit one that won’t be pretty defensively.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.