Joe Blanton returned from the disabled list last night with a win, allowing three runs in five innings against the Marlins in his first start since April 26, but said afterward that his elbow still isn’t totally healthy.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee agreed, telling Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that Blanton’s elbow “is still a little cranky” and “definitely not 100 percent.”
According to Dubee “there are certain pitches that at times he’ll feel it and at other times he won’t.”
Neither Blanton nor Dubee seem particularly worried about his status, but Zolecki writes that “it certainly seemed like the elbow bothered him” while allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks over five innings in what was hardly an impressive return start.
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.