Tony La Russa tried to explain the bullpen phone mix-up following last night’s loss and failed miserably, seemingly throwing his bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist under the bus. Fortunately he sung a decidedly different tune in his comments to the press this afternoon at Busch Stadium.
According to the Associated Press, La Russa took full responsibility for the mix-up and said that he told Lilliquist “10 times” that it wasn’t his fault. He also shed a bit more light on how the miscommunication may have happened in the first place.
While La Russa reiterated that he called the bullpen twice to get Jason Motte ready, he admitted that during the first call, he might have mentioned Motte’s name after Lilliquist had already hung up the phone.
Plausible? I suppose. It works for a pretty good excuse, if anything. But it’s just as plausible to say that he was simply unprepared for the inning to get to Mike Napoli. Since nobody heard him, we’ll probably never know for sure.
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.