Hafner will test shoulder Friday with batting practice

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Some more injury news on this less-than-frantic Thursday evening.

According to John Barone of MLB.com, Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner is scheduled to take batting practice on Friday afternoon at Cleveland’s Progressive Field.  If it goes well, he could be cleared immediately for a minor league rehab assignment.

“We’re going to have him take a lot of swings, just like normal BP,”
Indians manager Manny Acta told MLB.com. “We’ll see how he feels after that and
talk about the possibility of him going [on a Minor League
rehabilitation assignment] and getting a few at-bats before he joins
us.”

Hafner landed on the disabled list in late July with yet another case of shoulder soreness and was batting a disappointing .267/.368/.430 with nine home runs in 82 games before the injury.  He has not played more than 95 games since 2007, when the Tribe made it all the way to the ALCS and “Pronk” himself was considered a lethal slugger.  Hopefully he can make up for lost time with a strong September.  The 33-year-old is owed $13 million in each of the next two seasons.

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.