It’s not quite worthy of being added to this list of wacky baseball injuries, but Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee hurt his back in a freak accident on Wednesday, courtesy of some faulty furniture, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“He was eating before the game and the chair just collapsed on him,” manager Lou Piniella said. “That’s why we got him out of there after three innings.”
The fact Lee was eating when the chair collapsed was merely a coincidence. I’ve seen photos of Lee this spring and he has not ballooned to chair-busting, Fielder-esque proportions. So I’m inclined to blame the chair. And since the chair was at the Rangers’ spring facility in Surprise, it looks like the Rangers are the villains here.
Luckily, Lee received treatment on his back and should be back in the lineup on Friday, so you can table any talk of a conspiracy. Now if you want to talk curses, on the other hand …
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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.