Bruce Chen was scratched from his start earlier this week due to a swollen disk in his back and now Royals manager Ned Yost tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that he expects the veteran left-hander to be placed on the disabled list.
Chen said earlier this week that the injury was giving him “constant pain” and received an epidural injection to ease the swelling. He had a bullpen session this afternoon, but apparently isn’t feeling much improvement.
With Chen sidelined, Danny Duffy is expected to start in his place Saturday against the Tigers. Duffy has been pitching out of the bullpen since coming up from the minors last month, so he’ll likely only throw 65-70 pitches his first time out.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.