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RealGM Baseball Wiretap

Victorino Nearing Return To Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox could have their starting lineup together for the first time this season within the next week.

Shane Victorino began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. He is scheduled to continue the assignment on Monday and Tuesday after taking Sunday off.

Victorino could be in Boston's lineup as early as Wednesday.

Will Middlebrooks, who has been down since April 5 with a right calf strain, will start his assignment with Pawtucket on Monday.

Victorino suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain in Boston's spring finale.

Via Ian Browne/MLB

Cubs Not Giving Up On Veras At Closer

The Chicago Cubs are willing to let Jose Veras earn back the closer's role.

Veras was demoted after a poor start, but Rick Renteria continues to support the veteran right-hander.

"I still think we have a lot of guys in our pen that certainly can be managed through those particular innings," Renteria said.

"We're going to continue to keep our eyes open. We certainly want to make sure that we still give Jose a chance to get back into the role and try to find situations that we can allow him to work. He needs to work. ... In baseball you don't eliminate guys. You need them all."

Veras has a 15.43 ERA in 4.2 innings this season.

"In a perfect world, Veras would probably be our closer," Renteria said. "We just want to make sure he is given an opportunity. ... We talk a lot. Like he mentions, sometimes the light turns on and you feel good about yourself and you want to go out and do it. It is a special person who can close out those games. Do I think that all of our guys are potentially capable of doing it? Absolutely. But we still have to find ways to incorporate all of them."

Via Fred Mitchell/Chicago Tribune

Red Sox Pay Tribute To Bombing Victims

The Boston Red Sox honored victims of the Boston Marathon bombings on the eve of the 2014 Boston Marathon.

The team put together a pregame ceremony on Sunday night in recognition of those affected by the tragic bombings that took place at the finish line last April.

There were canvases bearing inscriptions of goodwill from all 50 United States, several local communities and also all 30 Major League Baseball teams in the outfield.

Doctors, nurses, EMTs and rehabilitation therapists lined the field as the Red Sox thanked them for their vital role in aiding the recovery of the victims.

"Another emotional roller coaster here at Fenway, tear jerker there for a minute," said Jonny Gomes. "It really sunk home how much healing is still going on, a year down the road, and how important it is on us as Red Sox to help the healing. Seeing those people out there, you find out how much easier it is to help heal than it is to heal. That being said, I think the Red Sox and Red Sox Nation are doing a good job of doing their part."

Via Ian Browne/MLB

Benches Clear In Brewers-Pirates Finale

The Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates brawled on the field in Sunday afternoon's game at PNC Park.

Hitting against Gerrit Cole with two outs in the third inning, Carlos Gomez hit a drive to center field and momentarily watched the ball fly. He tossed his bat and started running to first base, first slowly and then more rapidly when it became clear that Andrew McCutchen wouldn't make the catch at the wall.

McCutchen briefly stumbled, allowing Gomez to get all the way to third base. Cole was in the vicinity to retrieve the baseball from third baseman Josh Harrison, and scolded Gomez for not immediately running out of the batter's box.

Gomez said Cole used an expletive. Cole said he did not.

Gomez immediately popped up and took a few deliberate steps toward Cole, kicking off the brawl.

"I heard something I don't like," Gomez said. "I don't think he's the one who tells me what I have to do. I don't tell him what he needs to do to pitch."

Cole countered.

"I grabbed the ball from Harrison and I said, 'If you're going to hit a home run, you can watch it. If you're going to hit a fly ball to center field, don't watch it.' I didn't curse at him, I didn't try to provoke a fight. I was frustrated, and I let my emotions get the better of me and I ended up getting one of my teammates hurt, so I'm not too thrilled about it."

Via Adam McCalvy/MLB

Henderson Alvarez Rebounding From Poor Start

Henderson Alvarez made headlines when he threw a no-hitter on the final day of the 2013 regular season, but he struggled to begin this season.

In his first three starts, the right-hander allowed 25 hits and seven walks against only 10 strikeouts in 14.2 innings.

Alvarez hadn't made it past the sixth inning in any outing, but dominated the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.

The Mariners had a lineup with a .353 batting average against him.

Alvarez took a perfect game into the sixth inning for the Miami Marlins. He pitched a complete game shutout with four strikeouts and just two hits allowed.

Some of his effectiveness may be have been a regression to the mean. He had a .444 batting average on plays in play before the start, up from last season's .285 mark. His BABIP for the season is now down to a more reasonable .329.

Via Diane Firstman/ESPN

La Russa Estimates 'Five Or Six Games' Rightfully Won Thanks To Replay

Major League Baseball's new replay system has had plenty of critics early in the season, but the league itself is very happy with the early returns.

"Before this system," Tony La Russa said, "all you could do as a manager, if a mistake was made [by the umpires], was go in, watch the replay [after the game] and say, 'Well, that call was blown, and hopefully it'll even out later on.' But now you have a chance to correct that blown call. And the ability to do that has already had a direct impact on what the final score was a number of times."

La Russa, who works in the league office, helped devise the replay system.

He estimated there have been "five or six games" already in which, basically, the right team won -- because of replay.


Via Jayson Stark/ESPN

Harper Starts One Day After Benching


Bryce Harper started Sunday in the Nationals' 3-2 win, one day after he was replaced in the sixth inning for lack of hustle by manager Matt Williams.

Harper batted second and went 1 for 4 with a walk and stolen base against the Cardinals, according to an ESPN.com report.


Via ESPN.com

Tigers Cut Opening Day Shortstop

The Tigers have released Opening Day shortstop Alex Gonzalez and purchased the contract of infielder Danny Worth from Triple-A Toledo, according to an ESPN.com report. 

Detroit has struggled to fill the hole at shortstop after letting Jhonny Peralta leave via free agency and losing Jose Inglesis.

Via ESPN.com

Mets To Use Kyle Farnsworth As Closer

Manager Terry Collins announced Sunday morning that right-hander Kyle Farnsworth is his new closer, after Jose Valverde allowed four home runs in his last three appearances. Farnsworth didn't make the team out of spring training, but has allowed just one run in his eight appearances since joining the Mets on April 2.

Via ESPN.com

J.J. Hardy Still Without A New Deal

J.J. Hardy, who came to the Orioles in 2011, is looking for an extension, and said that while he's not trying to make a big deal about it, he had expected for talks to have already begun and is confused why they haven't taken place.

"I don't know. I don't know what to say because no matter what I say it's going to cause some controversy, a story that I really don't want to get involved with right now," Hardy told CSNBaltimore.com. "There's been no talk. There was going to be talk, and then there wasn't. That's kind of the way it's been left."

Via ESPN.com