Wellemeyer staking claim on final rotation spot

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wellemeyer wind-up.JPGThe Giants inked free agent Todd Wellemeyer to a minor league contract this winter and told him he’d have a legitimate shot at making the team as a fifth starter or long reliever. 

Despite the promises, we considered Wellemeyer a longshot to make the team when he signed.  But he has shot out of the gate this spring with a 1.20 ERA over five spring appearances and is out-pitching Madison Bumgarner, his 20-year-old competition for the final spot in San Francisco’s rotation.  Bumgarner doesn’t have any experience above the Double-A level and has served up far too many runs in Cactus League play this spring while showing an inability to strike batters out.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle believes Wellemeyer will indeed open the season as the Giants’ No. 5 starter and gathered this nugget from manager Bruce Bochy after the 31-year-old right-hander rattled off five scoreless innings Saturday against the Reds:

“He threw great,” Bochy said. “He attacked the zone and had command of
everything, and he threw strike one. He was on top of his game. He’s
thrown the ball well all spring.”

We can’t say for sure if the success will continue into the regular season.  In fact, we’d rather bet against it.  Wellemeyer owns a poor 4.74 career ERA and 1.51 WHIP, and went 7-10 last season with a 5.89 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in 28 appearances (21 starts) for the Cardinals.

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.