Aaron Cook suffers broken ring finger, likely out until May

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Aaron Cook is giving new meaning to the phrase “tough-luck pitcher.”

Cook was already expected to begin the season on the disabled list due to inflammation in his shoulder, but he could now be sidelined until May after breaking the ring finger on his pitching hand.

As he explained to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, Cook suffered the injury when he accidentally shut a door on his hand.

“It’s unfortunate. I woke up today after long-tossing and my shoulder was pain-free, but my finger really hurt,” Cook told The Denver Post. “At two weeks, I am hoping to start throwing. I don’t use the finger really to grip the ball. So as long as it doesn’t hurt when I throw, I am going to push as fast as I can to get back.”

Cook first felt symptoms with his shoulder following his second bullpen session of the spring, so he’ll essentially need to start from scratch once he’s ready to throw. That means the Rockies will have to settle on a fifth starter for the first month of the season.

Felipe Paulino, who was acquired from the Astros in the Clint Barmes trade, has already been moved to the bullpen after allowing five runs in six innings over his first two appearances this spring. That leaves Esmil Rogers as the current favorite, though Clayton Mortensen and John Maine could also be considered.

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.