Matt Harrison receives good news on his back, still not expected to be ready for season

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A bad mattress recently caused some back stiffness for Matt Harrison, but Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that an MRI came back negative and that the southpaw is expected to resume a throwing program on Thursday.

While Harrison isn’t expected to be ready for Opening Day, this still qualifies as good news for the Rangers. There was obvious cause for concern about his symptoms coming off a pair of surgeries last year to repair a herniated disk in his back, but the hope is that a nerve-blocking injection for his neck will get him back on the mound soon. Assuming Harrison makes solid progress, he should be able to join the Rangers’ rotation at some point in April.

Harrison, 28, was limited to just two starts with the Rangers last season. He went 18-11 with a 3.29 ERA in 32 starts in 2012.

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.