On Tuesday, it was reported that White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was “not too crazy about” participating in the Home Run Derby. The slugger, who has participated in home run derbies in Cuba, worries that the contest would have a negative effect on his mechanics.
Well, hold the phone. As MLB.com’s Jamie Ross reports, Abreu has asked American League captain Jose Bautista to keep the lines of communication open.
“He’s a little hesitant because he’s done a couple of them in the past and he hasn’t fared too well,” Bautista said. “He feels like it messes up his swing a little bit. But he did tell me it’s not 100-percent no, to keep the communication lines open with him and see what happens. I’m definitely doing that because I think the fans deserve to watch him.”
At the conclusion of Sunday’s action, Abreu remains tied for the major league lead in home runs with Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz and Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion at 25. Abreu ripped a pair of dingers against the Blue Jays on Friday. Overall, Abreu is slashing .279/.328/.625 with 64 RBI, tied for the third-best in the majors.
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. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.
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.