Shoulder injury keeps Takashi Saito off Braves' playoff roster

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After two weeks on the sidelines with a shoulder injury Takashi Saito made a tune-up appearance in the Braves’ second-to-last game of the season Saturday, retiring just one of the six batters he faced while allowing two runs on two hits and three walks.
It was an ugly appearance and not surprisingly the Braves have decided not to include Saito on the NLDS roster for their first-round series against the Giants. He could be added if the Braves advance to the NLCS, but Saito has already experienced several setbacks with the injury and is far from a sure thing to be ready by then.
Atlanta has no shortage of capable late-inning options in the bullpen, but losing Saito still hurts. Prior to the ugly tune-up appearance Saturday he posted a 2.52 ERA, .196 opponents’ batting average, and 69/14 K/BB ratio in 54 innings as Billy Wagner’s primary setup man.

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.