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.

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.

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.