Dustin Pedroia returns from disabled list

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After 15 days off due to a thumb injury, Dustin Pedroia was activated from the disabled list Thursday and will be back in the lineup for the final game of the series against the White Sox.

Mauro Gomez was sent down to make room, as the Red Sox opted to keep both Pedro Ciriaco and Nick Punto as utilitymen.

Ciriaco was terrific while filling in for Pedroia, hitting .400 with six RBI and three steals in nine games. It will be interesting to see if the Red Sox start giving him some time over Mike Aviles at shortstop. He is the better defender of the two, and while he can’t match Aviles’ power, it’s as though Aviles has been a real asset with his .286 on-base percentage this season.

Update: Boston has Pedroia hitting third behind Carl Crawford tonight, with Adrian Gonzalez in the cleanup spot. Ciriaco is DHing and batting ninth.

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.