Jackie Bradley Jr. expected to make Opening Day roster with Red Sox

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There’s nothing official yet, but after weeks of debate about the pros and cons, it looks like top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. will break camp with the Red Sox.

According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Ryan Sweeney was told after tonight’s Grapefruit League game against the Twins that he will not be added to the 40-man roster. As a result, Boston’s final two roster spots are expected to go to Mike Carp and Bradley.

Bradley entered spring training as a major long shot to win a roster spot, but things changed in a hurry due to a combination of his excellent play and David Ortiz’s absence from the lineup. The 22-year-old had an RBI single in tonight’s game and is hitting .441 (26-for-59) with two home runs, four doubles, one triple and 12 RBI in 26 games this spring. Barring a last-minute change, Bradley figures to play left field while Jonny Gomes will fill in for Ortiz out of the DH spot. Things could obviously change once Ortiz is back to full health, but it’s going to be tough to send Bradley down if he keeps producing.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.