Melky Cabrera 'doubtful' for Game 5 after injuring hamstring

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Melky Cabrera injured his left hamstring last night while running out a ground ball in the sixth inning. He initially tried to stay in the game, but was replaced defensively by Brett Gardner in the next half-inning and is now considered “doubtful” for tonight’s Game 5.
Cabrera has started every playoff game in center field, but Gardner drew 63 starts there during the regular season as the Yankees ran a platoon for much of the year. In terms of overall value there isn’t much of a dropoff from Cabrera to Gardner and in some situations Gardner would be the superior option, but in this case the injury hurts New York because of Cliff Lee.
Even if the Yankees were still employing a platoon in center field the switch-hitting Cabrera would get the call against the left-handed Lee. Cabrera hit .268/.343/.420 in 178 plate appearances against lefties this season, while the left-handed-hitting Gardner has batted just .241/.310/.316 in 91 plate appearances against southpaws during his brief career. Toss in the fact that Lee is much more effective versus lefties than righties and Cabrera is clearly a better bet to do damage against the Phillies’ ace.
Joe Girardi also brought up the possibility of leaving Gardner on the bench and giving Jerry Hairston Jr. the start in place of Cabrera. Hairston started twice in center field for the Yankees during the season, which is two more starts than he made in right field before getting the nod there against Pedro Martinez in Game 2. Hairston has logged 847 innings in center field during his dozen-year career and might be a slightly better bet than Gardner against Lee, and Girardi has certainly shown a willingness to tinker.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.