Clay Buchholz could return to the Red Sox on Wednesday

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It appears Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz will indeed return to the major leagues before the end of the regular season. Just before.

According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Buchholz is scheduled to pitch an inning Monday in the Red Sox’ fall instructional league down in Fort Myers, Florida. If the appearance goes smoothly, he should be cleared to return to the big leagues as a long reliever on Wednesday for Boston’s 2011 regular season finale.

Buchholz has been sidelined since the middle of June because of a stress fracture in his L2 (lumbar) vertebrae. The talented 27-year-old had a decent 3.48 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 60/31 K/BB ratio in 82 2/3 innings before landing on the disabled list.

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.