Jason Kipnis suffers an abdominal strain

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The Indians lost their fifth in a row last night and they may have lost their second baseman for a while too: Jason Kipnis suffered a right abdominal strain while swinging the bat in the fourth inning of the Indians-Angels game. From Jordan Bastian

Kipnis — Cleveland’s offensive sparkplug — felt a jolt in his right side and back on a swing that resulted in a double-play groundout against Angels right-hander Jered Weaver in the fourth inning. The second baseman ran up the line, slowed as he approached first base and could be seen grabbing at his side in obvious discomfort.

“It knocked the wind out of me,” Kipnis said. “I couldn’t really breathe while I was going down to first base. It wasn’t letting go.”

No decisions have been made about whether Kipnis will be placed on the disabled list. Terry Francona said after the game that they’ll wait until Kipnis shows up at the park later today to see if it was more of a cramping thing or what.

Either way: things couldn’t be going much worse for Cleveland.

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.