UPDATE: So much for that. Fielder was just scratched from the lineup again.
Prince Fielder’s consecutive games played streak ended up 547 over the weekend when he missed back-to-back games with a herniated disk in his neck, but the Rangers first baseman is back in the lineup tonight against the Mariners.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Fielder “received a nerve-blocking injection to help the problem” and he’ll actually play designated hitter rather than first base in his first game back to lessen the risk of aggravating the injury.
Fielder has had a huge power drought in his first season in Texas, managing just three homers and a .360 slugging percentage through 42 games. He’s also hitting just .247 and despite more walks (25) than strikeouts (24) his .360 on-base percentage is well below his career norms.
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.