Here’s a true rarity: Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez struck out looking against Astros right-hander Jarred Cosart to end the first inning of Monday’s game.
It was his first strikeout looking since Matt Albers, then of the Indians, got him on May 21, 2013.
Martinez had struck out 42 times since that date, but all were of the swinging variety. He had gone 579 plate appearances without striking out looking.
While Martinez has never been a big strikeout guy — his career high is 78, established in 2006 and matched a year later — he’s taken things to a new level this year. Monday’s strikeout was just his fourth in 96 at-bats and 110 plate appearances.
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.