Former M's manager Don Wakamatsu issues statement

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Don Wakamatsu, who was fired as Mariners manager earlier today, just issued a statement via his former employer’s public relations department.

(courtesy of Larry Stone of the Seattle Times)

“I would like to thank the city of Seattle and all the baseball fans
here in the Northwest for the great support offered to me during my time
as Mariners manager.

“My single biggest disappointment is that we were not able to finish
what we wanted to finish here, bringing a championship club to the fans.

“I can not tell you how great the fans were to me, and to my family.
The support I received here will always mean a great deal to me.”

Nothing too revelatory here, but we shouldn’t expect much from a statement distributed by the team. According to Stone, Wakamatsu will conduct a conference call tomorrow.

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.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.