How much longer can the Padres keep Anthony Rizzo down?

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14 homers, 56 RBI.

Those are Anthony Rizzo’s totals in 44 games for Triple-A Tucson so far.

And they’re totals Brad Hawpe may struggle to match if he spends the entire season as the Padres’ first baseman.

Rizzo actually has slowed down a bit of late.  He’s hit a mere .329/.415/.671 in May after dominating Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .400/.471/.744 line in April.

But even Rizzo’s bad splits are terrific.  He’s doing his best work at home in Kino Stadium, but he’s still hitting .340/.411/.660 in road games.  Of course the left-handed hitter is tearing up right-handers, but he’s hitting a fine .333/.364/.500 in 30 at-bats against southpaws.

And with 56 RBI in just 169 at-bats, it’s obvious he’s saving his biggest hits for when it matters.  11 of his homers have come with men on base.  He’s hitting .410/.474/.860 with runners on and .458/.521/.949 with RISP.

The Padres, meanwhile, have gotten a .224/.270/.367 line with six homers and 22 RBI in 196 at-bats from their first basemen.  Hawpe is on pace for 13 homers and 42 RBI at the moment.

To be fair, Hawpe is getting the job done at the moment.  He’s actually been very good this month.  But with Eric Hosmer having graduated, Rizzo has taken over as the game’s best first base prospect and he’s moved up his timetable in a big way with his huge start.  If Hawpe goes into another slump, it’s going to be very difficult for the Padres to resist the lure of calling him up.

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.