Marlon Byrd has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment five weeks after suffering facial fractures from a beaning and the Cubs center fielder showed Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune the special protective helmet he’ll wear.
As for how long he’ll wear it, Byrd told Sullivan that he’s not sure yet:
I might try one game without it, but it’s something I can wear all year long. Maybe it’ll take that thought process out of my mind, when I’m on the infield, trying to steal a base or breaking up a double play.
Byrd will play his first rehab game at Triple-A tonight and barring a setback is slated to come off the disabled list on July 4.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.