Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has been on the shelf for a little over a week with an oblique injury. He hasn’t totally been ruled out for Opening Day, and the team’s recent run of roster decisions suggest that management does not believe the injury to be serious.
The Cards are bringing only two catchers to Cincinnati, where they open the 2010 season against the Reds: Molina and 36-year-old Jason LaRue.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the backup, LaRue, is likely to start Monday’s opener. He went 9-for-36 this spring with one home run and six RBI in 18 Grapefruit League games and is a .232/.316/.398 career hitter over more than 2,500 major league at-bats. As a backup to the defensively stellar Molina, he sees very little time behind the plate during the regular season.
Free agent right-hander Chris Tillman is narrowing his pool of potential suitors, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Returning to the Orioles is one option, of course, but Heyman also mentions another two undisclosed teams who are still in the running. An earlier report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun suggests that as many as four teams may be in the mix; either way, a final decision is expected by Monday.
Tillman, 29, has spent the entirety of his major league career in Baltimore. After posting career-high numbers in 2016, his progress was derailed during an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, during which he missed nearly six weeks on the disabled list with recurring right shoulder inflammation. He finished the season with a bloated 7.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 4.9 SO/9 over 93 innings.
While the mystery teams have yet to reveal themselves, the Blue Jays, Twins and Tigers have all expressed interest in the veteran right-hander this offseason. Both the Blue Jays and Twins have made big moves to bolster their rotations over the last few days, with the additions of Jaime Garcia and Jake Odorizzi, respectively. That doesn’t mean that Tillman is out of reach, however — if his price is right, he could provide some much-needed depth for pitching staffs that finished 15th and 22nd in the league last year.