Carlos Quentin,  Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke to make rehab start Friday, on track to rejoin Dodgers next week

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When Zack Greinke fractured his collarbone during a benches-clearing brawl with Padres’ outfielder Carlos Quentin on April 11, he was originally expected to miss about eight weeks. However, he’s now on track to return well ahead of schedule.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Greinke will make a minor league rehab start tomorrow with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, just a shade under four weeks removed from his surgery. Assuming all goes well, he could make his return to the Dodgers’ rotation next Wednesday against the Nationals.

Greinke stretched out to 60 pitches during his most recent bullpen session on Tuesday, so he figures to throw somewhere in the area of 75 pitches tomorrow. It’s unlikely that he’ll be ready for a full workload if he’s activated next Wednesday, but the scuffling Dodgers will take what they can get.

Greinke, who joined the Dodgers over the winter on a six-year, $147 million contract, had a 1.59 ERA and 10/1 K/BB ratio over his first 11 1/3 innings of work this season prior to the benches-clearing incident.

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)
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)
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.