Chad Billingsley might need yet more surgery

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Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley began a rehab assignment with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday, the next step on a long road back from the Tommy John surgery he underwent on April 25, 2013. It may be a while yet before he returns to the major leagues.

Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times reports that Billingsley has suffered a partial tear of the flexor tendon. MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that Billingsley is expected to announce tomorrow if he will elect to undergo another surgical procedure to fix the injury.

Billingsley, 29, made only two starts in early April last season before landing on the DL. He allowed four runs with six strikeouts and five walks in 12 innings. The Dodgers have a $14 million option on Billingsley with a $3 million buyout for the 2015 season.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.