El Duque to attempt comeback with Rangers

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The Rangers, who have already gambled on Jason Jennings and Kris Benson with mixed results this year, announced the signing of Orlando Hernandez to a minor league contract on Thursday.

There hadn’t been much talk about Hernandez lately, but little brother
Livan said in February that El Duque intended to make a comeback as a
reliever during the season. Hernandez wasn’t ready to pitch at the
beginning of the season following surgery to remove a bunion on his
right toe. The foot problems prevented him from pitching for the Mets
last season as he finished up a two-year, $12 million contract. In
2007, he went 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 24 starts and three relief
appearances.

El Duque is listed as being 39 years old, but the assumption is that
he’s 43. It’s doubtful that he’d have any chance of holding up as a
starter for the Rangers, but we wouldn’t bet against him proving quite
useful out of the pen. He’s always been able to strike hitters out with
his vast array of pitches and arm angles. He might even be a legitimate
right-handed setup man for a team currently relying on Darren O’Day in
that role.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.