Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks

Roy Oswalt throws bullpen session, could make rehab start next week

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Roy Oswalt threw approximately 50 pitches in a bullpen session before tonight’s game against the Cubs and told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he’s optimistic his back issue is finally behind him.

“I actually felt great,” Oswalt said. “Probably felt as good as I did in spring training.”

Oswalt hasn’t pitched since leaving a start against the Cardinals on June 23, but his back issue has followed him since his third start of the season. He received a cortisone injection in his back in late-April to little effect, but said today that he is pain-free after he received another injection two days before the All-Star break.

The tentative plan is for Oswalt to throw another bullpen session Friday, which could clear the way for him to make a minor league rehab start next week. If all goes well, he could rejoin the Phillies’ rotation in early August.

Oswalt, 33, is 4-6 with a 3.79 ERA and 42/18 K/BB ratio over 13 starts this season. He has averaged a career-low 5.30 K/9 and 91.2 mph on his fastball, though his back has undoubtedly affected his performance.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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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.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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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.