Astros sign Zach Duke to minor-league deal

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Zach Duke, who spent last season with the Diamondbacks, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Astros.

Duke was once considered a top prospect for the Pirates, but had a 4.54 ERA over six seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to Arizona last offseason.

He posted a 4.93 ERA in 77 innings split between the rotation and bullpen, but missed time with a broken hand and struck out a measly 3.8 batters per nine innings. Not surprisingly the Diamondbacks declined his $5.5 million option for 2012, paying Duke a $750,000 buyout instead.

Houston can certainly use plenty of pitching depth, but barring the Astros trading a veteran starter he’ll probably be competing for a long relief gig.

Danny Farquhar in critical condition after suffering ruptured aneurysm

Danny Farquhar
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Awful news for the White Sox and reliever Danny Farquhar: the right-hander remains hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage, per a team announcement on Saturday. He’s in stable but critical condition after sustaining a “ruptured aneurysm [that] caused the brain bleed” on Friday.

Farquhar, 31, passed out in the dugout during the sixth inning of Friday’s game against the Astros. He regained consciousness shortly after the incident and was taken to RUSH University Medical Center, where he’s expected to continue treatment with Dr. Demetrius Lopez in the neurological ICU unit.

“It takes your breath away a little bit,” club manager Rick Renteria said following the game. “One of your guys is down there and you have no idea what’s going on. […] When one of your teammates or anybody you know has an episode, even if it’s not a teammate, something is going on, you realize everything else you keep in perspective. Everything has its place. It’s one of our guys, so we are glad he was conscious when he left here.”