Starlin Castro hasn’t played in a Cactus League game since March 2 due to a strained right hamstring, but he’s finally ready to return to action. Sort of.
According to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, Castro is expected to take several at-bats today in a minor league game. They might keep him on the minor league side for now to protect themselves against the possibility of a setback, enabling them to backdate a potential stint on the disabled list, but he expects to be ready for Opening Day.
Castro is coming off a disappointing season in which he hit just .245/.284/.347 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 161 games. It’s easy to forget that he’s only entering his age-24 season, so while he hasn’t progressed as hoped, he’s far from a lost cause at this point in his career.
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.
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.