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Tyler Clippard agrees to minor league deal with Toronto Blue Jays

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DUNDEIN, Fla. — Reliever Tyler Clippard has agreed to a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and will report to big league spring training.

The 33-year-old right-hander had been working out with major league free agents in Bradenton. He had said last week that he wanted a major league contract.

Clippard was 2-8 with a 4.77 ERA in 76 games last season with the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros, who did not put him on any of their postseason rosters. He is 34-24 with a 3.11 ERA in 11 major league seasons.

His contract was announced Wednesday.

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Los Angeles Dodgers bring Walker Buehler off IL as playoffs approach

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The Los Angeles Dodgers activated Walker Buehler, who has been dealing with a blister on his right index finger for about a month, off the injured list Thursday for one final tuneup start before the postseason.

Buehler, 26, was placed on the IL because of that blister for the second time in two weeks on Sept. 10, but the right-hander threw a six-inning, 90-pitch simulated game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, throwing the first 75 pitches with his finger uncovered.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he would be monitoring Buehler “pretty closely” in his return against the Oakland Athletics and that the primary objective is to ensure he doesn’t suffer a setback. Buehler recently sought advice from former Dodgers starter Rich Hill, who has dealt with blisters throughout his career.

“Walker feels really good, confident, the finger itself in a good place,” Roberts said. “It’s just up to all of us to make sure we just manage it tonight. He wouldn’t be making this start if we didn’t feel good as far as him taking on a regular start.”

The Dodgers are still ironing out most of their pitching plans for the best-of-three wild-card series that begins at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, partly because the team might not learn its opponent until the end of the week.

Buehler and Clayton Kershaw are expected to start the first two games, but the Dodgers have yet to determine the order. A potential Game 3 could see the Dodgers deploy an opener, with the traditional No. 3 starter — either Julio Urias, Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin — pitching bulk innings later in the game.

Buehler wasn’t properly stretched out when Major League Baseball restarted and has logged only 32⅔ innings heading into his final regular-season start, posting a 3.86 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 10 walks. Most of his recent work has come in controlled environments.

“He’s still pitched and understood what’s at stake in these sim games, and I expect him to be sharp,” Roberts said. “You’re one start away from the postseason, so I expect him to be sharp and ready to go.”

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Chicago Cubs planning for reduced capacity at Wrigley Field to start 2021 MLB season

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The Chicago Cubs laid off about 25% of their business staff on Thursday because of a loss in revenue and in anticipation of an uncertain 2021, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

The move follows a significant round of cuts on the baseball side in August.

Based on advice from medical experts, as well as restrictions because of local ordinances, the Cubs are not expecting full capacity inside Wrigley Field at the beginning of next season.

It’s possible only season-ticket holders will be allowed to attend games. They’ll get first priority as they make up about 50% of overall ticket holders, which is about the same capacity the team is expecting to allow inside the stadium.

The Cubs expect to miss out on about 75% of their revenue in 2020, according to sources, because of the COVID-19 outbreak that has limited the season to 60 games, without fans in the stands. That could add up to a $125 million to $140 million loss.

Uncertainty in the next collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players also is contributing to the overall financial picture of the Cubs, according to sources.

“This is through no fault of their own and had nothing to do with their performance, talent or contributions,” a team source said when asked by ESPN about the lost jobs. “This was a difficult decision but the goal was to restructure the organization based on the current operating environment with losses of more than $100 million anticipated next year. We’re no longer a business that welcomes 3.3 million fans and we’re not sure when that business will resume.”

The team is hopeful to get back to full capacity at Wrigley Field later in the 2021 season, but with no guarantee from medical experts about when there might be a vaccine, the team is preparing for reduced capacity for as long as necessary.

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Braves ace Max Fried (ankle) expected back for Game 1 of playoffs

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Braves ace Max Fried is expected to be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs after leaving his start Wednesday with an ankle injury.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Fried is sore but additional tests on the ankle were negative.

Fried was making his final regular-season start for the NL East champions and hoping to boost his Cy Young Award credentials before starting Game 1 of his team’s first-round series. He lasted only one inning against the Marlins, tweaking an ankle while fielding a bunt down the third-base line by Starling Marte.

Although Fried didn’t appear to be hurt on the bunt, he wasn’t the same pitcher after the play.

Having gone the entire season without allowing a homer, covering 55⅔ innings, Fried suddenly gave up two in a row. Jesus Aguilar hit one off the facade of the second deck, Brian Anderson drove one into the empty center-field seats, and Garrett Cooper nearly made it three in a row with a double off the wall.

“Obviously, it bit him a little bit,” Snitker said after the game. “I’m sure it was on his mind, too.”

The left-hander got the third out, then sat solemnly in the dugout while talking to Snitker and getting an apparent pep talk from teammate Freddie Freeman. Although the decision to remove Fried was described as precautionary, it created more uncertainty for the Braves, who have struggled all season to find three consistent starters to go with Fried.

Atlanta bounced back with three runs in the bottom of the first to beat the Marlins 9-4 and ensure that Fried wouldn’t take his first loss. He finished the regular season 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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