Cardinals place Felipe Lopez on DL with elbow injury

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Felipe Lopez pitching.jpgThe Cardinals have placed infielder Felipe Lopez on the 15-day disabled list with a Grade 1 strain of his right elbow, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Lopez had been sidelined since last week due to discomfort in the elbow, but it’s amazing how much this has flown under the radar considering that he threw 21 pitches in the 20-inning marathon against the Mets last Saturday.

It’s only natural that some will assume there’s some sort of connection between the two, but Tony La Russa tells Goold that he doesn’t believe that’s the case.

“I don’t think so,” La Russa said. “If you looked at his throws (from the
mound) they were less stressful than from shortstop or third base.

In fact, according to what LaRussa told Matthew Leach of MLB.com, Lopez felt discomfort in his elbow as early as April 11 — nearly a week before he pitched against the Mets — but he didn’t notify the team about the problem until two days later.

I really want to hop on my soapbox and call Lopez a bonehead here — remember, he even threw a couple curveballs on the bad elbow, as entertaining as it was — but it’s really hard to say that whatever soreness or discomfort he was feeling on April 11 didn’t feel any different than normal soreness that a player deals with throughout the course of a season. It’s a fine line. So while I won’t call Lopez a reckless jerk here, you can bet that La Russa will think twice — or at least ask the proper questions — before allowing a position player to pitch again.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.