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Matt Kemp optimistic he’ll be ready for Opening Day

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If you recall, surgery on Matt Kemp’s left (non-throwing) shoulder in October was a bit more involved than originally anticipated, as Dr. Neal ElAttrache repaired a partially torn labrum and rotator cuff damage. This has left some doubt about whether he’ll be ready for the start of the 2013 season, but Kemp told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com today that he’s healing “ahead of schedule” and is optimistic he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

“That’s my goal,” said Kemp, wearing a Dodgers jersey with Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 and accompanied by his mother. “I’m hitting off the tee, no soft toss yet. I have my good days and bad days. It’s still a little sore. But being ready for the season is all that matters.”

Kemp conceded that he may not be 100 percent by the start of spring training and that he expects the Dodgers to take it easy with him, but he’s much more concerned about his status for the start of the season. Of course, even if Kemp is ready for Opening Day, that doesn’t mean he’ll be the same hitter right away. Look no further than Kemp’s teammate, Adrian Gonzalez, for an example of what shoulder surgery can do to a hitter’s power production. For all their big spending, the Dodgers’ lineup isn’t exactly a juggernaut, so what version of Kemp we’ll see will be an important factor in their postseason hopes.

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)
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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)
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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.