Yadier Molina leaves game with oblique injury

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Yadier Molina left today’s game after straining his oblique muscle running the bases. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that he legged out a double and then was on his way home on a David Freese single when Molina pulled up lame, exiting with a trainer by his side.
Jason LaRue replaced him and would step into the lineup as the Cardinals’ starter if Molina were to begin the season on the disabled list, but losing him would be a huge blow. Not only did Molina lead all of baseball by starting 136 games behind the plate last season, he did so while hitting .293/.366/.383 and throwing out 41 percent of steal attempts.
Beyond that LaRue turned 36 years old last week and is an awful hitter at this point, batting a combined .194 with a lowly .610 OPS in four seasons since losing his starting gig in Cincinnati. He’s palatable as a little-used backup, but if pressed into extended duty things could get ugly. Hummel speculates that Molina may only be out for a week or so, but oblique injuries are often tough to predict.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.