Cliff Lee returns, and it is good. Mostly.

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Cliff Lee windup.jpgYeah, I think Cliff Lee is all better.

Lee handcuffed the Rangers for seven innings last night, allowing only three hits, not walking anyone and striking out eight. He threw 98 pitches, 73 of which were strikes. He was up around 93 m.p.h. with his fastball.  It was like the guy from Game 1 of last year’s World Series in a different uniform. When he departed Mark Lowe and David Aardsma each threw a shutout inning of their own.

That was the good news for Seattle. The bad news: Colby Lewis was even better.  The Rangers starter went nine, shutting out the Mariners in regulation and striking out 10, and keeping it 0-0 after nine.  It was one of the tougher no-decisions of the season. Elvis Andrus scored from third on a wild pitch by Brandon League in the top of the 12th inning and Julio Borbon hit an RBI groundout to make it 2-0, and thus Cliff
Lee’s night was spoiled.

But it’s just one loss, and having Cliff Lee back at 100% makes it a bit easier to stomach.

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.