Jim Thome is on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his neck and the 41-year-old designated hitter has been told that he’s at least 30 days from being cleared for baseball activities.
That means a mid-September return is now the best-case scenario and not playing again this season is a very real possibility. And with his 42nd birthday later this month that means not playing again, period, is also a very real possibility.
Thome has yet to say whether he plans to continue playing next season, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun thinks he dropped some pretty strong hints about continuing his Hall of Fame career within these quotes:
I don’t want to say yes, no. But you know what? This maybe changes my thinking a little bit. Maybe I do want to play a little bit longer. Again, I am trying to get back. I am not worried about next year. I think I’m trying to focus on this year, try to do the best to get back as quick as I can and to help us maybe accomplish and reach some special things here toward the end of September, through October. We’ll come to that once that time frame hits.
In other words, Thome doesn’t want to go out on the disabled list. And he remains an effective hitter, at least on a part-time basis, posting a .797 OPS in 150 plate appearances between the Phillies and Orioles.
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.