Jon Lester threw a problem-free bullpen session this morning and is scheduled to return from the disabled list Monday against the Royals.
Lester hasn’t pitched since July 5 because of a strained left latissimus, but manager Terry Francona told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal that the left-hander is healthy now and simply needs to build back his arm strength:
There’s no issues. That’s good. We’re just trying to ramp him up and let him get strong. He feels nothing in that lat, which is great. That’s what we wanted. Now it’s just the idea of getting him back to where he can go out there and start a game and not be so limited to where he can only throw 50 pitches.
According to Britton the pitch count for Monday’s start figures to be around 80 or 90. Aside from leaving the July 5 outing early, Lester hasn’t thrown fewer than 93 pitches in a start since Opening Day.
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.