Matt Kemp to begin brief minor league rehab assignment tomorrow

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Matt Kemp remains on track to return from the disabled list when he’s first eligible Tuesday, but he’ll have to make it through a brief minor league rehab assignment first.

Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times reports that Kemp is scheduled to play rehab games with Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday and Monday. The 27-year-old received a platelet-rich plasma injection last week to accelerate the healing of his left hamstring and was seen sprinting and stretching on the field before last night’s game.

Kemp was batting .359/.446/.726 with 12 homers, 28 RBI and a 1.173 OPS over 139 plate appearances prior to begin placed on the disabled list. The Dodgers lost to the Astros 3-1 last night, but are 7-4 during Kemp’s absence and still own the National League’s best record at 30-15.

Juan Rivera is also expected to begin a rehab assignment with the Isotopes tomorrow as he works his way back from a ruptured hamstring tendon, but he’ll need more time in the minors than Kemp.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.