Felix Hernandez to miss at least one start with oblique injury

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Last week Felix Hernandez had his start delayed due to what the Mariners were calling a lower back cramp, but it turns out it was actually an oblique injury and now he’ll miss the rescheduled start too.

Hernandez was supposed to pitch Wednesday against the Astros, but Brandon Maurer will take his place after a weekend throwing session didn’t go well.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge told Greg Johns of MLB.com that Hernandez’s injury is “a minor oblique strain” but oblique strains tend to linger a whole lot longer than initial estimates and with the team out of contention there’s no real motivation to rush him back.

Hernandez has been his usual excellent self this season, throwing 194 innings with a 3.01 ERA and 200 strikeouts, but also like usual the Mariners haven’t provided him with much run support on the way to a 12-9 record.

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.