Rangers re-sign Brad Hawpe to minor league contract

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The Rangers released Brad Hawpe last week, but he has been brought back on a minor-league deal and assigned to Double-A Frisco.

Hawpe, who batted .231 (6-for-26) with a homer during Cactus League action, is expected to split playing time between first base and designated hitter as he continues to build arm strength from Tommy John surgery last August. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com notes that he was not allowed to throw from the outfield during spring training.

Hawpe, a former All-Star with the Rockies, batted just .231/.301/.344 with four homers, 19 RBI and a .645 OPS over 216 plate appearances with the Padres last season.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.