Bruce Bochy: “Hard to put a target date” on Barry Zito’s return

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Barry Zito is off crutches two weeks after being placed on the disabled list with a sprained foot, but manager Bruce Bochy said yesterday that it’s “hard to put a target date” on his potential return.

Chris Haft of MLB.com reports that Zito was examined Wednesday by a foot specialist and is no longer forced to wear a protective boot, but “cannot yet put full weight on his injured foot.”

According to Bochy he won’t be cleared to resume throwing until fully participating in workouts for at least one week, which means Zito is likely still at least three weeks from possibly rejoining the Giants’ rotation. For now Ryan Vogelsong has replaced him.

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.