Henderson Alvarez on track to join A’s rotation in May

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A’s right-hander Henderson Alvarez took a big step Tuesday in his recovery from July shoulder surgery, throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session without experiencing any issues.

A’s manager Bob Melvin told Jane Lee of MLB.com that “it’s all fastballs right now, but we like what we’re seeing” from Alvarez, who spent 2013-2015 with the Marlins and was an All-Star in 2014.

Lee writes that the current plan for Alvarez’s recovery is to be pitching in minor-league games by April and, if things go well there, to come off the disabled list and join the A’s rotation some time in May.

Alvarez was non-tendered by the Marlins and his one-year deal with the A’s makes it clear that they expect him to have a significant impact this season, because it’s worth $4.25 million in upfront money and the contract doesn’t include a team option for 2017. They’re betting on Alvarez this year.

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.