Prince Fielder is not in Saturday night’s lineup for the Rangers, ending a streak in which he has played in 547 consecutive games. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that Fielder has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck and will be sidelined for at least a couple of games. He’ll receive a nerve-blocking injection which could allow Fielder to get back into the lineup on Tuesday.
It’s just the latest in a long line of injury reports for the Rangers, who recently lost pitchers Martin Perez and Matt Harrison and have 13 players in total on the disabled list.
Fielder has had a hard time at the plate in his first season with the Rangers, slashing .247/.360/.360 in 178 plate appearances. Fielder said the herniated disk has been an issue that he has been dealing with even during his time with the Tigers last season.
The Rangers are expected to demote a reliever to clear up a roster spot and call up a position player, likely Daniel Robertson.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.