Well, this is fantastic.
The Orioles will be a must-watch in their Grapefruit League game against the Yankees this afternoon, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun notes that Nelson Cruz will make the start in center field. Oh, but that’s not all. He’ll be flanked by Delmon Young in right field and Steve Pearce in left. Today’s starter, Chris Tillman, has a 41.6 percent fly ball rate for his career, so it should be fun out there.
Don’t worry, Orioles fans (and pitchers), it would take some unique circumstances to see this sort of defensive alignment during the regular season. This is mostly a matter of the team not having enough bodies around, as Nick Markakis is banged up, Adam Jones is away from the team following the birth of his son, and David Lough isn’t available. Enjoy it while you can.
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.