Brandon Lyon to miss start of spring training

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Lyon Signs.JPGAstros GM Ed Wade revealed to the media Tuesday that relief pitcher Brandon Lyon
had a small cyst in his right shoulder drained two weeks ago and won’t be back to full strength by the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

The Astros detected the cyst in the initial MRI they gave Lyon before he inked a three-year, $15 million contract in early December.  It seemed like a minor issue at the time, but the problem grew and Lyon finally told the club of his increasing discomfort last month.

“The follow-up MRI showed it had grown to the size of 1 1/2 grapes,”
Wade told MLB.com on Tuesday. “They aspirated the fluid out of it and Brandon went home and
began his regular throwing program.”

The ‘Stros are hoping Lyon will be ready by Opening Day.  He had a 2.86 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and a 57/31 K/BB ratio in 78 2/3 innings last year for the Tigers and is expected to begin the 2010 season as the Astros’ closer.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.