Photos of the Day: MLB players signing autographs for the troops

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This is my first All-Star Game but reporters I spoke with said that, by far, the players are far more accessible this year than they have been at All-Star Games past. Just saw a good example of this down on the field as the AL Players were coming out for warmups.

Here are Max Scherzer and Mike Trout signing autographs for troops who are here to participate in pregame ceremonies:

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This wasn’t one of those orchestrated deals where players appear to have been told to go do things for the troops. They are just walking back and forth from the clubhouse to the field, past throngs of fans hanging over the rails, the reporters and the assembled hoi polloy. Because they have places to be they obviously can’t stop for everyone. But most of the players — not just Trout and Scherzer — are stopping for the troops. Who, by the way, are over the moon each time one stops.

The vibe here is so friendly. So relaxed. I’ve sort of complained that everyone keeps saying “I’m just happy to be here.” But really, they all appear very happy to be here.

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.