Jason Heyward’s thumb is OK. Sorta.

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The only thing that gives me pause about Jason Heyward’s career prospects is the sneaking sense that he’s going to be injury prone.  He had a nagging sore knee at the end of the year.  And, of course, he had the ligament issue in his thumb in the middle of the season that probably cost him the Rookie of the Year award.

The thumb was more serious, and Heyward says he’s swinging a bat pain-free. Still, it’s not perfect:

“I don’t have any pain in it, but I still don’t have the full range of motion in it. I still can’t bend it anywhere close to where it was before.  I don’t know if I ever will be able to do that.  But I know it’s not holding me back from hitting.”

It’s probably nothing. How much does one really move their thumb when hitting anyway?  But I worry that he’s going to have nagging injuries.  And no, this is not backed up with any empirical evidence whatsoever.  This is a 100% emotional reaction.

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.

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.