Orioles “cautiously optimistic” about Jim Thome’s return

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Baltimore losing Nick Markakis for the rest of the regular season was a big blow, but the Orioles may be adding a different strong left-handed bat to the lineup soon.

Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that the Orioles are “cautiously optimistic” about Jim Thome being ready to return from a herniated disk in his neck during their upcoming road trip, which begins tomorrow and runs through September 23.

Thome has been out since late July, but has been swinging a bat without any problems since last week and posted a solid .797 OPS in 42 games before being shut down. As a part-time designated hitter and bat off the bench Thome could provide a nice little boost.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.