Pirates confirm interest in Rick Ankiel

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Last week Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Pirates were interested in Rick Ankiel, and yesterday team president Frank Coonelly confirmed their interest in a chat with fans on MLB.com:

Rick certainly had an off-year at the plate for the Cardinals in 2009, but we believe that the Pirates could provide Rick with an opportunity to re-establish himself. We have let Rick’s representative know of our interest.

In his report last week Kovacevic noted that the Pirates were pursuing both Ankiel and Hank Blalock for what’s essentially one potential opening in the lineup. Garrett Jones will start somewhere, but his position isn’t set in stone yet. He could play first base if Ankiel is signed for right field or right field if Blalock is signed for first base.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch speculates that Ankiel is looking for a one-year deal that would give him a chance to put together a comeback season and then hit the open market again, which seemingly fits the Pirates’ plans as well with prospect Jose Tabata nearing the majors. Another option could be Xavier Nady, who played for the Pirates from 2006-2008 and like Ankiel is trying to re-establish his value following a forgettable year.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.