Joe Saunders exits early with bruised left ankle; Rangers remain snakebitten

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In early March, the Rangers made an emergency signing of Joe Saunders to patch up their injury-ravaged rotation, having lost Derek Holland and Matt Harrison. The Rangers had another scare when Yu Darvish was forced to miss his Opening Day start due to a neck injury, though he didn’t require a stint on the disabled list. This is pitchers only, mind you, as the Rangers have also lost top prospect Jurickson Profar and catcher Geovany Soto. How much worse can it get?

Saunders was metaphorically hit hard by the Rays in his start on Friday night, allowing five runs (four earned) over 3 2/3 innings. But he was also literally hit hard, taking an Evan Longoria comebacker off of his left ankle. The Rangers removed him from the game and sent him to have X-rays taken. They turned up negative, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Saunders was officially diagnosed with a bruised left ankle.

It remains to be seen if Saunders will have to miss his next start, but you can bet the Rangers are holding their breath.

Report: Orioles re-sign Pedro Alvarez to minors deal

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The Orioles have re-signed infielder Pedro Alvarez to a minor league deal, per a report from Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. The deal guarantees Alvarez $1 million if he makes the 40-man roster and another $2 million in potential performance bonuses. The team has yet to confirm the deal.

This will be Alvarez’s third year with the Orioles. After posting decent numbers in 2016, the 31-year-old was relegated to the minors for the majority of the 2017 season and saw only 14 games at the big league level. He finished the year with an underwhelming .239/.294/.442 batting line and 26 home runs through 595 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk.

Alvarez is expected to split his time between first base and DH this spring, and MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli notes that he’s unlikely to experiment with another outfield role. While he isn’t too far removed from his last productive season in the majors, the veteran infielder will function purely as insurance for first baseman Chris Davis and designated hitter Mark Trumbo and will likely begin the season in the minors.