Evan Longoria exits game with sore left oblique

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A bit of frightening news out of Tampa Bay.

According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was lifted prematurely from Saturday’s game against the Orioles due to soreness in his left oblique.

Longo will be reevaluated after undergoing a round of tests Sunday morning. The 25-year-old was 0-for-1 with a walk before being replaced by Sean Rodriguez at the start of the sixth inning.

If Longoria suffered an oblique strain, he could be out for up to a month. The Rays, who lost their opener to the Orioles on Friday and were no-hit through six innings on Saturday, will have to hope it’s only soreness.

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.