Link-O-Rama: Strasburg to debut in AFL

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* Now that they have Stephen Strasburg signed, the Nationals plan to have the No. 1 overall pick make a few instructional league starts before pitching in the Arizona Fall League. According to general manager Mike Rizzo, the goal is to have him throw “35-50 innings total” after not pitching since San Diego State’s season ended in late May. Strasburg will wear No. 37, just like he did in college.
* Alfonso Soriano has been dealing with knee pain since running into the outfield wall at Wrigley Field on April 22, hitting just .231/.288/.395 in 99 games since then while going 11-for-70 (.157) with 18 strikeouts this month. He’s been out of the lineup for the past three games and is set to undergo an MRI exam this afternoon. “I hope it’s nothing serious,” Soriano said. “I want to see the doctor and see. I don’t like surgery.”
* Also in the Cubs’ outfield, Milton Bradley talked yesterday about the “hatred you face on a daily basis” and how “it’s hard to be comfortable when you don’t get a hit and get booed every time.” Luckily for everyone involved, there are still two years and $21 million remaining on his contract.
* Random trivia: A.J. Pierzynski is batting .316 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs, putting him on pace to become just the third player in baseball history to hit above .300 with at least 15 homers and fewer than 50 RBIs in a season. The others? Bill Madlock (.309-15-44) in 1978 and Richie Zisk (.311-16-43) in 1981.
* Thanks to Joe Maddon and the Rays, hair-dye sales in the greater St. Petersburg area have gone through the roof.

Mets tell Jay Bruce they plan on having him start in right field

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  Jay Bruce #19 of the New York Mets reacts after striking out in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on September 22, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The Mets told Jay Bruce that the club plans on having him open the season as the everyday right fielder, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. This comes as no surprise after the Mets failed to get any bites after dangling Bruce as a trade chip. The Mets reportedly wanted a pair of prospects in exchange for Bruce.

With Bruce in right, Yoenis Cespedes back in left, and Curtis Granderson in center, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out. He’ll either warm the bench or head back to Triple-A Las Vegas for regular at-bats.

Bruce, who turns 30 years old in April, had a rough final two months of the 2016 season after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. He hit a paltry .219/.294/.391 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 187 plate appearances. Bruce, apparently, wanted to go anywhere but in New York.

Angels sign Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 11:  Eric Young Jr. #4 of the Atlanta Braves slides safely into third base on a RBI triple in the fifth inning against the New York Mets during the Braves opening series at Turner Field on April 11, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Andrelton Simmons #19 scored on the triple.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.

The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.