Ryan Braun back in Brewers’ lineup and hitting second

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Ryan Braun left Thursday’s game with tightness in his right side, a concerning development after his recent DL-stint due to an oblique injury, but Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that he’s back in the starting lineup this afternoon against the Marlins.

Interestingly, Braun will hit second today. This will be the first time that he has batted anywhere other than third since September 10, 2010. It’s unclear whether Brewers manager Ron Roenicke plans to keep him there for an extended stretch, but many believe that teams should employ their best hitter out of the No. 2 spot. It should be an interesting situation to watch.

Braun, 30, is batting .289/.328/.529 with seven home runs and 19 RBI over 31 games this season.

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.