Twins showing interest in Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan

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The Cardinals drew only minimal interest when trying to shop shortstop Brendan Ryan at last week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida.  It appears their luck has changed.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Twins are exploring a trade for Ryan, hoping to add middle infield depth in the wake of Friday’s J.J. Hardy swap.

Ryan, 28, batted just .223 with a 573 OPS in 486 plate appearances for St. Louis this past year, but he’s one of the best defensive shortstops in all of baseball and would be a useful utility infielder on just about any roster.

The Twins won exclusive negotiating rights to 2010 Japanese batting champ Tsuyoshi Nishioka and are expected to work out a deal with the shortstop.  They also have 26-year-old Alexi Casilla on board.  A moving carousel of Nishioka, Casilla and Ryan at second base and shortstop would be plenty respectable.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.