Juan Rivera nearing return from torn hamstring

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Juan Rivera was initially expected to miss two months with a torn hamstring suffered on May 9, but the Dodgers outfielder/first baseman is so far ahead of schedule in his recovery that he’s hoping to come off the disabled list this weekend.

Rivera has already played two games on a minor-league rehab assignment and told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he’d like to be back in the Dodgers’ lineup Friday versus the Rockies.

Or at least back on the roster, that is. Rivera’s injury opened the door for Bobby Abreu to emerge as a key part of the Dodgers’ lineup in left field and there may not be much more than a platoon role waiting for Rivera when he returns.

Abreu has hit .339 with a .908 OPS in 22 games for the Dodgers and being limited mostly to facing left-handed pitching is probably the best role for Rivera at this stage of his career anyway.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.