Brandon Beachy makes first rehab start since Tommy John surgery

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The Braves currently sit at 28-18 on the season and hold a four-game lead over the Nationals in the National League East, but they could get even stronger soon.

Brandon Beachy began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett last night and allowed two runs over four innings. The 26-year-old right-hander has already thrown in simulated games and extended spring training, but this was his first official start since he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last June.

As so often happens after Tommy John surgery, Beachy’s control was a bit shaky, as he walked three and threw just 35 out of 70 pitches for strikes. Still, reports on his velocity have been pretty positive thus far, so the strength is there.

Pitchers are permitted to spend a maximum of 30 days on a rehab assignment and Beachy figures to need most of it. However, he should be back in the majors by the end of June if all goes well. The Braves could have a tough decision to make about their rotation when that time comes, but that’s a nice problem to have.

Royals sign Clay Buchholz to minor league deal

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Royals have signed pitcher Clay Buchholz to a minor league deal. Buchholz will earn a $1.5 million salary if he makes the club’s major league roster and can earn an additional $250,000 through incentives. Buchholz has an opt-out date set for May 1, which means if he isn’t on the Royals’ 25-man roster by then, he can request his release.

Buchholz, 33, was acquired by the Phillies from the Red Sox in December 2016, but he made only two starts before an MRI revealed he had a partial tear of his right flexor pronator mass. He underwent surgery in April and missed the rest of the season.

The Royals recently lost Jesse Hahn, who was diagnosed with a sprained right UCL. Buchholz would likely be in consideration for a rotation spot if another starter were to suffer an injury. Presently, the Royals’ rotation appears set with Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jake Junis, and Nate Karns.