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Joey Votto is still feeling discomfort in his quad

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Reds first baseman Joey Votto took ground balls on Wednesday and swung a bat on Thursday, but he hasn’t responded as well as the club expected, reports C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Votto is not with the Reds as they open up a series in Pittsburgh.

Votto has been out since July 8 with a left distal quad strain. There’s increasing belief that Votto could not return this season, as only 28 games remain going into their series opener tonight.

Manager Bryan Price on Votto:

“He took a few ground balls (Wednesday). It wasn’t as good a result as we had hoped. There was still some fairly significant discomfort when he got lateral side-to-side so we had back off with that and stay with some strengthening and whatever the physical therapy protocols are. We hope when we get back there are some marked improvement. He took some light swings yesterday and he’ll be able to gradually increase baseball workload based on how he feels.”

Due in part to the injury, Votto was posting some of the worst numbers of his career, slashing .255/.390/.409 with six home runs and 23 RBI in 272 plate appearances prior to landing on the disabled list.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.