David Murphy is back in the starting lineup for Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays this afternoon, according to Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He’ll start in left field and bat seventh against Matt Garza.
Murphy has been sidelined since last Wednesday due to a strained left groin. Jeff Francoeur started against left-hander David Price in Game 1 of the series, while Julio Borbon was in the lineup for Game 2 against James Shields.
Murphy isn’t much to write home about against left-handed pitching, but he has an 842 career OPS against right-handed pitching, including a .298/.368/.479 batting line to go along with 11 homers, 50 RBI and an 847 OPS this season.
Bengie Molina, who was the unlikely hitting star in Game 1, is back behind the plate Saturday, batting eighth.
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.
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.