After a bit of a slow start in the majors, Astros rookie outfielder George Springer is beginning to figure things out.
Springer homered in his fourth straight game tonight while going 4-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI, a walk, and five runs scored in a 9-2 victory over the Royals. The 24-year-old has five home runs and 11 RBI during this recent stretch and is now batting .268/.348/.500 with eight home runs and 25 RBI over his first 35 games in the majors. Among players with at least 150 plate appearances, he’s tied for 14th in the American League in slugging percentage and ranks 17th with an .848 OPS.
Springer scuffled to the tune of a .170 batting average through his first 12 games in the majors, but he’s hitting .319 over his last 23 games. Strikeouts have still been an issue for him even during his recent run of success, but there’s reason for Astros fans to be very excited here.
The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.
Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.
While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.