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.

David Phelps to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.

Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.