Brad Lidge aiming to begin rehab assignment Monday

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Brad Lidge, who has been on the disabled list all season with elbow and shoulder problems, threw a 35-pitch bullpen session yesterday and is scheduled to do so again tomorrow, at which point the Phillies may clear him to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the rehab stint could start as soon as Monday, but notes that the Phillies may ask Lidge to make 8-12 appearances before rejoining the bullpen.

That seems like an awful lot of work in the minors unless he looks terrible early on and for his part Lidge told Salisbury that he’s aiming to return “sometime between the All-Star break and the end of July.”

Charlie Manuel has stated previously that Ryan Madson would remain the closer even after Lidge is back, but now Madson is also on the DL with a hand injury and those plans could potentially change if Lidge beats him back from the DL and thrives right away. In the meantime Antonio Bastardo will continue to fill in as closer.

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.