Joakim Soria throws second bullpen, nears return to the Tigers

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Matthew Mowery of the Oakland Press reports that Tigers reliever threw a bullpen session and didn’t feel anything in his oblique, a good sign as the reliever hopes to return to the Tigers soon. The Tigers will examine Soria on Saturday to see how he feels and proceed from there. No timetable for his return has been given, though it sounds like he isn’t too far away.

Soria hasn’t pitched since August 9, making only six relief appearances after coming over from the Rangers. Between both teams, Soria has posted a 3.58 ERA with 17 saves and a 45/6 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.

Closer Joe Nathan, who has struggled mightily this season, has only pitched in three games since August 26, but all three have been scoreless and mostly drama-free. Had Nathan’s struggles continued, the Tigers might have felt a pressing need to rush Soria along. They entered Friday’s action a game behind the Royals for first place in the AL Central.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.