What we're watching: Wolf looks to quiet Rockies

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– Joe Saunders returns after missing just three turns with shoulder tightness that he said had been a factor since spring training. The Angels have been pretty aggressive in handling him even though they still have the game’s second-best record and his health could play a huge role in determining their fortunes in October. Before being shut down following his Aug. 7 start, Saunders had given up at least four runs in eight straight outings, taking his ERA from 3.66 to 5.33. He’ll be facing the Tigers and Edwin Jackson.
– Also returning is knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who takes an 11-3 record into his start against the White Sox. It will be his first start since July 8. The Red Sox placed him on the DL after the break with a back strain, and he also struggled with a sore calf that developed during his rehab. He’s 7-0 with a 3.92 ERA at Fenway Park this season. Gavin Floyd will take the ball for the Pale Hose.
Game of the Night
Colorado vs. Los Angeles – We’ll go with this matchup again, since it worked out pretty well last night. The Rockies won that one 5-4 in 10 innings, moving them to within two games of the NL West lead. It’ll be Randy Wolf versus Josh Fogg in the middle contest of a three-game series. Wolf, whose early-season hard luck has all transferred over to Clayton Kershaw lately, has won three straight starts, with the Dodgers scoring nine runs in two of those games. He’s 8-6 with a 3.34 ERA overall. Fogg will be making his first start of the year after replacing the injured Aaron Cook in the rotation. He has a 2.25 ERA in 20 relief appearances.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.