The Cardinals have scored fewer runs this season than the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Reds, Red Sox, Marlins, Angels, Rockies, Tigers and Mets, among others, and the frustration is really starting to build in St. Louis. According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it may have reached a tipping point Friday, when superstar slugger Albert Pujols and future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa shared a heated exchange in the Cardinals’ dugout.
La Russa called for outfielder Ryan Ludwick to steal second base with two outs in the eighth inning and Pujols at the plate. Ludwick, of course, was gunned down, and Pujols was left standing at the dish.
Albert flipped his bat and helmet in disgust, then knocked over two trays of gum in the home dugout. La Russa yelled “that’s enough,” and after a few moments added “I (expletive) know how to manage.”
Both La Russa and Pujols played it off as a non-issue when asked to describe the incident Saturday and it sure sounds like a heat of battle moment. But few would argue that the Cardinals are struggling, or at least under-performing in a weak National League Central division. In fact, the Reds are currently in first place by a half-game.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.