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Yelich in Brewers’ lineup after missing 5 starts

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MILWAUKEE — Brewers star Christian Yelich has returned to the lineup after missing five starts because of a back injury.

The 2018 National League MVP was set to bat third and play right field Tuesday night when the Brewers hosted the Minnesota Twins.

Yelich leads the NL with a .335 batting average, and his 39 home runs are tied for the most in the majors with Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.

Yelich pinch-hit on Sunday and struck out in the Brewers’ 1-0 loss to the Texas Rangers.

The lefty-swinging Yelich missed six consecutive games from April 29 to May 4 while dealing with a back issue. He has not been on the injured list this season.

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Korea Baseball Organization prepping for fans in stands as soon as Friday

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The Korea Baseball Organization is trading in its cardboard cutout fans for real ones.

South Korea announced Sunday it will begin reopening stadiums to spectators this week. A KBO official said the league is working to welcome fans back as soon as Friday.

“We haven’t yet established specific guidelines, and we have to monitor the situation with the virus, but we expect to have fans back in the stands by Friday at the earliest,” the league’s secretary general Ryu Dae-hwan told the Yonhap News Agency on Sunday. “We’ll make the health and safety of our fans the No. 1 priority.”

The KBO aims to open stadiums at 30% capacity before working its way up to 50% in the coming weeks, according to the news agency.

The league had been playing in empty stadiums since the season began on May 5.

The highest level of baseball in South Korea, the KBO was one of the first sports to return during the coronavirus pandemic. With games airing on ESPN throughout the summer, the league has become popular among baseball fans awaiting MLB’s return.

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Rays’ Wander Franco one of many top prospects picked for 60-man player pools

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Top prospect Wander Franco is part of the Tampa Bay Rays‘ 60-man player pool, and the Detroit Tigers are including their most heralded young pitchers as baseball gears up for its abbreviated season.

Sunday was the deadline for teams to submit player pools, although additions can be made later. Many teams announced pools well below the 60-player limit.

Franco, a 19-year-old shortstop, is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. He spent last season at Class A, so it would be quite a jump for him to contribute in the majors in the immediate future, but putting him in the player pool makes him an option for the Rays — and could help his development in a year when the coronavirus shut down the minor leagues.

Pitcher Brendan McKay and infielder Vidal Brujan, two other top Tampa Bay prospects, also made the pool.

“They are some of our more advanced prospects,” Rays general manager Erik Neander said. “Certainly on the position player side that’s where things went and why Wander was a leading candidate for a spot.”

The Tigers are rebuilding around pitching prospects — including Casey Mize, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. He’s in their player pool, along with Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez.

The defending champion Washington Nationals included a whopping 36 pitchers in their pool, while the Baltimore Orioles announced only 44 players total at this time — not counting outfielder Trey Mancini, who was listed on the 60-day injured list and is likely to miss the season following colon cancer surgery in March.

The Nationals included infielder Ryan Zimmerman in their pool, although he said recently he was still deciding whether he would play.

The New York Yankees listed Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade as infielders/outfielders, a sign they could see more outfield time if Aaron Judge (broken rib), Giancarlo Stanton (strained right calf) and Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) aren’t sufficiently healed. New York put right-hander Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) on the 45-day IL, agreed to minor league contracts with infielder Matt Duffy and catcher Max McDowell and released right-hander Dan Otero, then re-signed him to a minor league contract.

The Pittsburgh Pirates‘ player pool was without reliever Edgar Santana, who will miss all of the 2020 season after being suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. MLB announced Sunday that Santana tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

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Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Edgar Santana suspended 80 games

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Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Edgar Santana was suspended 80 games without pay by Major League Baseball on Sunday after testing positive for a banned substance.

MLB said in a statement that Santana, 28, was positive for Boldenone, a performance enhancer.

Santana, a right-handed reliever, missed the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery.

In 2018, he appeared in 69 games for the Pirates, going 3-4 with a 3.31 ERA. He struck out 74 in 66⅓ innings that season.

“The Pirates are disappointed to learn of today’s news that Edgar Santana has received an 80-game suspension as a result of a violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” Pirates GM Ben Cherington said in a statement. “Because of the confidentiality requirements of the Program, we will not have further comment on this matter.”

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