Juan Rivera returns ahead of schedule from torn hamstring

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Juan Rivera is off the disabled list and back on the Dodgers’ active roster just four weeks after tearing his hamstring, which was initially expected to be a two-month recovery timetable.

To make room for Rivera’s return the Dodgers optioned Scott Van Slyke back to Triple-A after he went 6-for-31 (.194) with one homer in his first taste of the big leagues at age 25.

Rivera’s absence opened the door for Bobby Abreu to claim a big role in the Dodgers’ outfield, so manager Don Mattingly figures to use Rivera as a part-timer primarily versus left-handed pitching.

Pirates pitcher Steven Brault sang the National Anthem last night

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Pittsburgh Pirates swingman Steven Brault has a 4.38 ERA in 19 games this year. He also has a music degree and is a professional singer on the side of his baseball gig. He didn’t get into last night’s game against the Brewers as a pitcher, but he did get to use his singing skills.

Specifically, Brault got to sing the National Anthem. And he did an OK job of it too. He’s not Whitney Houston or anything, but he did what all Anthem singers who are not as gifted as Whitney Houston was should do: he kept it straight and businesslike, avoiding unnecessary flourishes:

It’s march, dang it, not a ballad, and it should be treated as such. Unless of course you’re Whitney Houston.