Rays' Carlos Pena homers in sixth straight game

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carlos pena headshot rays.jpgRays slugger Carlos Pena drilled yet another home run in Saturday’s 6-5 victory over the Marlins, topping Jose Canseco’s franchise record of consecutive games with a long ball.

Pena has homered in six straight contests and is now chasing the all-time record held by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long, who all homered in eight straight games.  The Tampa Bay left-hander had a .169 batting average when this show of power began last Sunday and is now hitting .196.  His slugging percentage has also risen exponentially to .439 and he’s among the league-leaders in home runs with 15.

The 32-year-old Pena is in a contract year, meaning he will be seeking the big bucks in just a handful of months.  He was off to a horrendous start, but teams in need of a first baseman or DH have now certainly taken notice.

Due in large part to Pena’s hot bat, the Rays have won four of their last six games and sit atop the American League East with a MLB-best 40-22 record.  The Yankees trail by one game.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

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.