Royals invite four to spring training

The Royals on Wednesday signed four players with big-league experience to minor-league contracts, inviting all to major-league spring training.

Heath Phillips, a 26-year-old lefty, split last season between the Class AAA affiliates of the Yankees and Rays, going 4-5 with a 4.75 ERA. He was a September call-up with White Sox in 2007, going 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA.

Lenny DiNardo, a 29-year-old lefty, has appeared in the big leagues for parts of the past five seasons with the Red Sox and A’s. He was 1-2 with a 7.43 ERA in 11 outings for the A’s in 2008.

Oscar Villarreal, 27, is a right-handed pitcher and six-year big-league veteran who is 24-15 with a 3.86 ERA in 258 career appearances with the Diamondbacks, Braves and Astros. He was 1-3 with a 5.02 ERA in 35 relief appearances for Houston last season.

Tommy Murphy, 29, is a switch-hitting outfielder who was with the Angels for parts of 2006 and 2007. He’s hit .213 in 68 career big-league games, and has well above-average speed. He hit .300 with 42 steals for the Class AAA affiliates of the Nationals and Marlins last year.

The four signings bring the total of Royals’ nonroster invitees to 12.

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