Alex Avila began a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Toledo after being sidelined due to a concussion, but his return to the Tigers is temporarily on hold.
According to Chris Iseman of MLB.com, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said that Avila had to make an early exit from his first rehab game due to a headache. The 26-year-old went 0-for-2 with a walk and caught three innings before exiting. He didn’t have any symptoms yesterday, but was held out of action as a precaution. The hope is that he could be able to serve as the DH today.
“You just take it slow for a day and then see how it plays out, and we’ll get him back into action,” Leyland said.
Avila is batting just .198/.288/.340 with nine home runs and 36 RBI over 73 games this season, though he was showing some signs of a turnaround prior to his concussion. While Brayan Pena and Bryan Holaday have done most of the catching during his absence, Victor Martinez made his first start behind the plate in two years last night.
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.