Clayton Kershaw strikes out nine in final rehab start

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Clayton Kershaw should be activated next week.

The Dodgers’ ace left-hander made his second (and likely final) minor league rehab start on Wednesday evening for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, yielding two runs but fanning nine batters over five solid innings against the Southern League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Kershaw threw 56 pitches in his rehab debut last Friday night with High-A Rancho Cucamonga and made it to 86 pitches Wednesday in Chattanooga. In his next outing — which will probably be Monday against the Washington Nationals — his pitch count can jump near 100.

Kershaw has been on the disabled list since March 29 with a teres major muscle strain — the same injury Michael Pineda suffered this week. Kershaw has been limited to one regular-season start since signing his $215 million contract extension in January, and that outing was at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia.

A touching moment from Kershaw’s start Wednesday for the Lookouts:

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.