Carlos Ruiz close to returning from concussion

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Carlos Ruiz has been on the disabled list since suffering a concussion on June 26, but the Phillies catcher has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

CSNPhilly.com reports that Ruiz will be in the lineup Thursday night at Single-A Clearwater and barring a setback he could be ready to return from the DL at some point next week.

That wouldn’t leave enough time for Ruiz to show contending teams that he’s healthy enough to be a July 31 trade pickup, but in the first season of a three-year, $26 million contract he could be moved during the August waiver trading period and the Phillies might have to eat some salary to get a deal done anyway.

Before the concussion Ruiz was doing his usual thing at the plate, hitting .257 with two homers and nearly as many walks (31) as strikeouts (35) in 66 games for a strong .363 on-base percentage and .719 OPS. When healthy he remains one of the best catchers in baseball, but at age 35 and with his injury and contract the trade market could be limited.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.