Drew Storen is back on the mound following elbow surgery

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The Nationals have relied on Tyler Clippard as their primary closer in recent days, but he could return to his familiar set-up role before long.

According to Amanda Comak of the Washington Times, Drew Storen recently began throwing off a mound following April surgery to remove a bone chip from his right elbow. He threw for the first time on Friday and again today.

While Nationals manager Davey Johnson sensed that Storen was a little disappointed by the results today, he also said that the 24-year-old right-hander “had no problems after throwing” and is “right on track.” We should getting a better sense of his timeline in the next week or two, but he currently hopes to rejoin the Nationals’ bullpen around the All-Star break.

Storen, who was selected 10th overall in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, owns a 3.10 ERA over his first 127 relief appearances in the big leagues.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.