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12/17/08 4:29 PM EST

Royals sign four to Minor League deals

Phillips, Villarreal, DiNardo, Murphy issued spring invites

A busy week continued for the Royals on Wednesday as they announced the signings of four Minor League free agents, inviting all of them to Major League Spring Training.

Kansas City agreed to contracts with pitchers Heath Phillips, Lenny DiNardo and Oscar Villarreal, as well as outfielder Tommy Murphy. All four have spent at least some time in the Major Leagues.

Villarreal, 27, is probably the most intriguing of the bunch, a right-hander who has been an effective part of bullpens in Arizona and Atlanta. He has a 24-15 lifetime record with a 3.86 ERA, 236 strikeouts and 135 walks in 258 big league appearances spanning 336 innings. In 2008, he spent Major League time with the Astros and pitched in the Mariners and Rockies organizations in 2008.

DiNardo, 29, is a lefty who has pitched for the Red Sox and A's. He made 20 starts for Oakland in 2007, posting a 4.11 ERA, but struggled in 2008. For his career, DiNardo is 10-15 with a 4.93 ERA, 124 strikeouts and 100 walks in 235 2/3 Major League innings.

Phillips, 26, had a brief taste of the Majors in 2007 with the White Sox. He split 2008 between the Rays' and Yankees' Triple-A affiliates, pitching both as a starter and a reliever, though for most of his professional career he has started.

Murphy, 29, is a .213 lifetime hitter in 108 at-bats with the Angels in 2006 and 2007. The switch-hitter came up through the Angels organization before playing for both the Nationals' and Marlins' Triple-A clubs in 2008. For his Minor League career, he's hit .265 with a .317 on-base percentage, a .387 slugging percentage and 199 steals in 292 attempts.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.