The Yankees go out to play

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Brian Hoch from MLB.com:

The Yankees believed chemistry was one of their strengths as they
pursued a 27th World Series championship last year, and along the way,
many pointed back to a March off-campus billiards tournament as one of
their building blocks.

What?! That’s like saying that the Mongols won the Battle of Liegnitz because Subotai the Valiant had everyone over for a nice dinner party beforehand.

Um, or something.  Look, the point is that pleasant little outings don’t win championships. Home runs and strikeouts and good defense and an embarrassment of roster riches that only the Steinbrenners are both able to and willing to pay for are what win championships! Am I right? I said AM I RIGHT?!

Given that success, manager Joe Girardi is hoping that the formula will
work one more time as the Yankees prepare to defend that title. They
left the bats and balls at the ballpark on Tuesday, heading off to a
Tampa area arcade for an afternoon of fun and video games.

[Facepalm] . . .[composing breath] . . . Fine. You got your 27 rings, I guess you can play some damn whack-a-mole if you want to.  Well? . . . . . . . don’t just sit there smiling like a boob, tell me how it went!

Indy car: A.J. Burnett wins; Dana Cavalea second place
Skeeball: Andrew Brackman wins; Eduardo Nunez second place
Pop-a-shot: Royce Ring wins; Mark Melancon second place

Here’s some of what Mark Teixeira had to say:

“The
highlights were A.J. Burnett just smoking the field in the video game
racing, and Royce Ring being probably the best pop-a-shot basketball
player I’ve ever seen. Those two were hands-down the best at those two
events. Whenever the basket is moving, Royce takes the cake.”

I guess that sounds like fun. But just wait until tomorrow when Ian O’Connor writes a scathing rebuke of Alex Rodriguez for showing his teammates how to get free games by painting the quarter red. Then we’ll see who’s having a good time.

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.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.