Ryan Braun appears headed to the disabled list

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Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has been bothered by a thumb issue, forcing him out of his team’s previous four games after being removed from the series finale against the Phillies on Sunday. A cursory look at his stats reveals a player enjoying a fine season, but Braun hasn’t homered since May 22 and has posted a .636 OPS in the time since, including only four extra-base hits.

Braun was to participate in batting practice to gauge how he felt, but it was “no bueno“, per Adam McCalvy:

“More of the same,” Braun said. “It basically has been the same for a while. Everything we have tried to get to the point where I can take a regular swing has not helped. We’ve tried different wraps on the bat, different padding on the batting gloves. We’ve basically tried everything we can think of.”

The last resort would be Braun’s first-ever trip to the disabled list.

“The next step is something I don’t want to do,” manager Ron Roenicke said before those batting practice swings. “But if that’s the best way to do it, then we’ll do it. That’s why we want to see where he is today. If he’s really good, then we know where to go.”

The Brewers are 27-38, barely ahead of the last-place Cubs in the NL Central. Losing Braun cripples an offense that is already given the unfortunate task of having to outpace their league-worst pitching staff, which allows 4.8 runs per game on average.

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.