Rehabbing from hip surgery, Cody Ross on track for spring debut in mid-March

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Cody Ross required season-ending surgery last August after he sustained a fracture and dislocation of his right hip, an injury you don’t often hear about with a baseball player, but he’s getting closer to returning to game action.

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said today that Ross could make his Cactus League debut around March 13 if all goes well. His recovery has gone smoothly so far, as he ran earlier this month for the first time since surgery and was cleared to take part in most spring training activities.

The Diamondbacks haven’t officially ruled Ross out for the start of the season, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll be ready for the series against the Dodgers in Australia from March 22-23. However, a return at some point in April appears possible.

Ross, 33, batted .278/.331/.413 with eight home runs and 38 RBI in 94 games last season before his hip injury. He’ll likely split playing time with Gerardo Parra in right field once he’s back to full health.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.