Texas hasn’t officially changed its Opening Day plans yet, but T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Yu Darvish is unlikely to make his Game 1 start because of a stiff neck.
For now general manager Jon Daniels is saying the Rangers could simply push back Darvish’s start, basically moving him to the end of the rotation, which wouldn’t require placing him on the disabled list.
Darvish was initially scratched from his scheduled start Friday when he woke up with a stiff neck and … well, basically every piece of injury news for the Rangers has been a bummer lately, so this fits. Texas was already beginning the season without Derek Holland and Matt Harrison in the rotation.
Despite dealing with back and hip problems last season Darvish was fantastic for the Rangers, starting 32 games and logging 210 innings with a 2.83 ERA and MLB-leading 277 strikeouts.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.