Clay Buchholz makes early exit from start due to stiff back

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Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal passes along word that right-hander Clay Buchholz had to be pulled prematurely from his Thursday evening start against the Rays due to back stiffness.

Buchholz surrendered just two hits and one earned run over five innings before exiting and had thrown only 81 pitches. He’s been bothered by this back ailment since the beginning of June and has also been pitching through a blister on his finger.

The Red Sox are calling his early departure “precautionary” and have not indicated that he’s going to need to miss his next start, but they’re adding rotation depth in Andrew Miller next week and could simply skip Buchholz one time through the rotation to be safe. Ian Browne of MLB.com has an indication of what that might look like.

Buchholz, 26, has registered a quality 3.48 ERA and 1.29 WHIP through 14 starts this season.

Report: Royals sign Neftali Feliz

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals have signed free agent reliever Neftali Feliz, pending a physical. The Brewers designated Feliz for assignment last week and released him on Monday.

Feliz, 29, opened the season as the Brewers’ closer, but struggled and was eventually taken out of the role in mid-May, giving way to Corey Knebel. In 29 appearances spanning 27 innings with the Brewers, Feliz posted a 6.00 ERA with a 21/15 K/BB ratio.

The Royals have had bullpen issues of their own, so Feliz will try to provide some stability given his track record. It’s not clear yet if the Royals want to let Feliz get his feet wet at Triple-A or throw him right into the bullpen mix.

Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base upon return from DL

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.

Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.

In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).