Bryce Harper was spotted with a big brace on his troublesome left knee Tuesday morning in the Atlanta airport, on his way back from a visit to the office of one Dr. James Andrews. Which led many to speculate that Harper might have undergone some sort of knee procedure. But that’s not the case.
Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz clarified Tuesday to James Wagner of the Washington Post that the brace was part of a program of rest and that Harper was found to have no structural damage in his left knee during his time at Andrews’ facilities. Harper was given platelet-rich plasma treatment and a cortisone shot to help with his patellar bursitis.
“These are all good things,” Kuntz told the Post. “We want him to rest the knee, that’s why we put him in the immobilizer. We’ll reevaluate him in one week’s time and if everything’s a go then we will resume activity with him and get him going as quickly as we can. … We’ll see how it responds and we’ll go from there.”
Harper was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 1, retroactive to May 27. He was eligible to return for Tuesday’s series opener in Colorado but is obviously going to need at least another 10 days.
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.