Ron Washington expects Yu Darvish back in the Rangers’ rotation on August 25

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Rangers manager Ron Washington expects starter Yu Darvish to rejoin the Rangers’ rotation when he’s first eligible on August 25, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Darvish went on the disabled list on Thursday retroactive to August 11 with inflammation in his right elbow.

There was some concern that Darvish could miss the rest of the season, but it seems that Washington doesn’t share that concern.

“It’s our intention he will pitch again,” Washington said about Darvish’s season. “I expect him to pitch for us on [August] the 25th. I have no indication that it would be more than 15 days. Let’s let the process work and see where it goes.”

Darvish has taken a more long-term view. He told the media that if returning to pitch this season is “going to risk my elbow for the future, I’m not going to take the risk.”

The 27-year-old right-hander was in the midst of another great season before the injury halted his momentum. He has a 3.06 ERA with a 182/49 K/BB ratio in 144 1/3 innings. Robbie Ross started in his place last night and was shelled by the Rays, allowing six runs in 4 1/3 innings. Ross was optioned to Triple-A earlier today. The Rangers plan to skip over the #5 spot in the rotation as the club has off days on Monday and Thursday.

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.