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Rays exercise Nathan Eovaldi’s 2018 club option

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The Rays have exercised pitcher Nathan Eovaldi‘s 2018 club option worth $2 million, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Eovaldi, 27, missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2016. He did make one rehab appearance in September with Double-A Montgomery, recording a pair of strikeouts in one inning.

The Rays signed Eovaldi in February knowing his timeline and negotiated the club option for flexibility. It seems the club is pleased with his progress. Per Topkin, manager Kevin Cash said he expects Eovaldi to play a big role in the Rays’ starting rotation next season.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.