Royals sign Jason Donald and Melky Mesa

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The Royals announced Saturday on their official Twitter feed that they have reached agreement on minor league contracts with infielder Jason Donald and outfielder Melky Mesa. No word on whether those deals include spring training invitations.

Donald did not make an appearance at the major league level in 2013 and batted just .219 with a .586 OPS in 271 plate appearances for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky. He’s 29 years old.

Mesa, 26, appeared in five games last year with the Yankees but spent the majority of the summer at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he hit .261/.295/.452 with 13 home runs and 13 steals.

These are purely organizational depth signings for Kansas City.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.