Brewers’ Braun encouraged about thumb

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is feeling so good about an offseason procedure to address a nerve problem near his right thumb that he says it’s 100 percent better.

Bothered by the thumb problem for the past two seasons, Braun’s production at the plate declined and he batted a career-worst .266 with 19 home runs and 81 RBIs in 2014.

Braun underwent cryotherapy after the season ended at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles. The treatment, which involves freezing damaged tissues, had not been done previously in the thumb area.

The 31-year-old Braun tested the thumb with some swings and said he felt good. But he wants to wait until spring training in February to further assess his status.

Giants coach Flannery retires

Tim Flannery, the third base coach who waved home runners for the San Francisco Giants in their three recent World Series championship seasons, retired from baseball Tuesday.

Flannery, 57, first served as a coach under Bruce Bochy with the San Diego in 1996, and the duo moved together to the Giants in 2007.

San Francisco won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Flannery played 11 seasons as a major league infielder, all for the Padres from 1979-89. He was part of San Diego’s 1984 team that lost the World Series to the Detroit Tigers.

He posted a .255 batting average, a .335 on-base percentage, a .317 slugging percentage, nine homers and 209 RBIs in 972 career games.

Rays sign reliever Frieri

The Tampa Bay Rays added an arm to their bullpen on Wednesday, signing former Angels closer Ernesto Frieri to a one-year contract.

Frieri will receive $800,000 guaranteed and has the potential to earn an additional $2.35 million in incentives.

The 29-year-old right-hander struggled last season when the Angels and then with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was released by the Pirates after posting a 1-4 record with a 7.34 ERA in 41 2/3 innings between the two teams.

In 2013, Frieri had 37 saves and a 3.80 ERA for the Angels. He logged 23 saves in 2012 after joining the Angels from the San Diego Padres.

Frieri, a six-year veteran, has 71 career saves and a 3.46 ERA.

Lakers receive financial injury exception for Nash

The NBA granted a $4.85 million disabled player exception to the Los Angeles Lakers for point guard Steve Nash on Tuesday.

The Lakers could add a player via trade, free agency or waiver claim for up to $4.85 million.

Los Angeles previously received a $1.5 million exception for injured rookie forward Julius Randle, but the exceptions may not be combined. The amounts cover half of the players’ annual salaries.

The short-handed Lakers are 3-11, a half-game better than the team with the worst record in the Western Conference, the similarly injury-bitten Oklahoma City Thunder.

Nash went down for the season due to a back injury prior to the opener. In the prior two seasons with Los Angeles, he was healthy enough to appear in a total of just 65 games.

In 2013-14, Nash averaged 6.8 points, his lowest figure in 15 years, and 5.7 assists, his lowest mark in 13 years.

For his career, Nash averages 14.3 points and 8.5 assists. He won back-to-back MVP awards in 2004-05 and 2005-06 while playing for the Phoenix Suns.

Wrigley bleachers might not be ready for opener

The Chicago Cubs are preparing for the possibility that the renovated bleachers in Wrigley Field will not be finished before opening day in April.

Reports indicate that the team is putting contingency plans in place. The project experienced delays this fall resulting from the installation of a new water main that was not completed on the scheduled date.

Should the work not be completed in time for the start of the season, the Cubs plan to issue refunds or move ticket-holders from the bleachers to other seats.

The home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals is scheduled for April 5.

Pistons send Mitchell to D-League

The Detroit Pistons sent forward Tony Mitchell to Grand Rapids of the NBA Development League on Wednesday.

Mitchell, the No. 37 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, played in 21 games for the Pistons last season and averaged 1.0 points and 1.2 rebounds. He also spent time in the D-League with Fort Wayne and averaged 7.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots in 10 games.