Neil Walker rejoins Pirates after appendectomy

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Pittsburgh will activate second baseman Neil Walker from the disabled list for tonight’s game after he missed the past two weeks following an appendectomy.

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that Walker was slated to play in a minor-league rehab game Monday, but decided instead to rejoin the Pirates and take some swings during rehabbing right-hander Gerrit Cole’s simulated game. That apparently went well enough that the Pirates are convinced he’s ready to return.

Walker could serve as the designated hitter because the Pirates are playing the Rays in Tampa Bay, but manager Clint Hurdle will use him at second base, saying: “I don’t have any hesitation to play him in the field.”

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.