Astros sign Zach Duke to minor-league deal

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Zach Duke, who spent last season with the Diamondbacks, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Astros.

Duke was once considered a top prospect for the Pirates, but had a 4.54 ERA over six seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to Arizona last offseason.

He posted a 4.93 ERA in 77 innings split between the rotation and bullpen, but missed time with a broken hand and struck out a measly 3.8 batters per nine innings. Not surprisingly the Diamondbacks declined his $5.5 million option for 2012, paying Duke a $750,000 buyout instead.

Houston can certainly use plenty of pitching depth, but barring the Astros trading a veteran starter he’ll probably be competing for a long relief gig.

Orioles place Chris Davis on injured list

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The Orioles announced on Sunday that first baseman Chris Davis has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a hip injury. Pitcher Evan Phillips was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.

It is unclear when Davis, 33, suffered the injury, but he hadn’t started since Thursday. Davis famously got off to a very slow start — setting a record for futility — but has hit better over the last six weeks or so. Since April 13, he has a .229/.302/.427 batting line with five home runs and 15 RBI in 106 plate appearances. Still not what the Orioles want, but better than nothing.

Renato Núñez and Trey Mancini will handle first base while Davis is recovering from his injury.