Cliff Lee diagnosed with strained elbow, pitched through pain for several weeks

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In what qualifies as relatively good news considering they sent him for MRI exam, the Phillies have placed left-hander Cliff Lee on the disabled list with a flexor strain of his elbow.

Lee has been his usual fantastic self this season with a 3.18 ERA and 61/9 K/BB ratio in 68 innings, but Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that he’s been pitching through a flexor pronator strain for three weeks. During that time Lee has thrown 106, 100, 114, and 116 pitches and going back slightly further he tossed a season-high 128 pitches against the Braves on April 16.

For now the Phillies are saying they hope to potentially have Lee back when he’s first eligible to return in 15 days–general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. called the injury “pretty mild”–but obviously that’s far from a given at this point. Phillies fans can at least stop holding their collective breath for a while, though.

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.