Michael Bourn to have stitches removed from finger on Thursday

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Michael Bourn landed on the disabled list last week after he had his right hand stepped on by White Sox reliever Matt Thornton during a head-first slide into first base and required five stitches in his index finger, but he’s getting closer to rejoining the Indians’ lineup.

Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that Bourn is scheduled to have the stitches removed from his finger on Thursday. Assuming the wound doesn’t impact his ability to throw or grip a bat, he could be ready to return right around when he’s first eligible on April 30.

Bourn, who joined Cleveland on a four-year, $48 million deal in February, was hitting .333 (15-for-45) with seven extra-base hits (two home runs) and a stolen base prior to the injury. Drew Stubbs has been playing center field during his absence.

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.