The Cubs are "kicking the tires" on Heath Bell

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Whatever that means. It’s Phil Rogers’ phrase. Maybe they’re talking to the Padres about him, maybe they’re just talking about talking.

Either way, if the Cubs snagged Bell off the Padres, they’d go into their second straight season with someone who will likely push Carlos Marmol into a setup roll.  Granted, Bell (42 saves; 79Ks in 69 IP, 2.71 ERA) is a hell of a lot better than Kevin Gregg was, but Marmol didn’t take well to being the setup man last season, hitting guys and walking guys like crazy until Gregg got demoted and Marmol turned his season around. There were suggestions that he was erratic because his ego was bruised over losing a closer’s job he thought was his. Could it happen again if they brought in Gregg?

Ultimately, though, I’d rather have as many good arms as I could find and let Piniella figure it all out as opposed to anointing someone closer and calling it a day.

Dodgers designate Sergio Romo for assignment

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The Dodgers announced on Thursday that the club activated pitcher Grant Dayton from the 10-day disabled list and designated pitcher Sergio Romo for assignment.

Dayton, 29, went on the disabled list earlier this month with neck stiffness. He’ll resume with a 3.63 ERA and a 20/12 K/BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings.

Romo, 34, signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Dodgers in February. It didn’t really work out, as the right-hander posted a 6.12 ERA with a 31/12 K/BB ratio in 25 innings. His peripherals are still decent, so it wouldn’t be surprising if a team in need of a bullpen arm makes a deal with the Dodgers within the week.

Nate Karns underwent season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that Royals pitcher Nate Karns underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome on Wednesday. He’s expected to be ready for spring training next year. Karns went on the disabled list in May with an elbow injury and didn’t make much progress.

The Royals acquired Karns from the Mariners in January in exchange for outfielder Jarrod Dyson. Over eight starts and one relief appearance, the 29-year-old right-hander compiled a 4.17 ERA and a 51/13 K/BB ratio in 45 1/3 innings.

Karns will enter his first of three years of arbitration eligibility after the season, so he’ll be under the Royals’ control through 2020.