Astros won't bring back Geoff Blum, picking $150,000 buyout

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Geoff Blum was Houston’s Opening Day first baseman, but yesterday the Astros informed the 37-year-old utility man that he will not be back in 2011.
Rather than exercise their $1.65 million option the Astros will give Blum a $150,000 buyout and he’ll go in search of another bench job after hitting his usual .267/.321/.356 in 218 plate appearances.
Houston’s remarkable turnaround this season is obviously represented plenty well by their 17-34 start followed by a 59-52 finish, but going from thinking Blum was a viable replacement for Lance Berkman at first base to not even wanting him back next year at the relatively lost cost of $1.65 million also tells a pretty convincing story of the team’s in-season improvement.

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.