Tommy Hanson is in the best shape of his life

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The “Player X has added Y pounds of muscle” construction is closely related to the BSOML phenomenon.  Indeed, it is believed that that “muscle” and “shape” have similar roots in Indo-European etymology!*

Don’t let the overgrown offseason beard fool you. Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson has been working hard this offseason, taking advantage of some new resources available to him.

Hanson spent the winter in Southern California working out at the Boras Sports Training Institute with a team of trainers … Hanson said Monday morning on the first day of the Braves’ pre-spring pitching camp that he’s gained 10 pounds of muscle.

On a less cliche note, everyone talks about Boras being the big willy agent because the money he gets his players. And that’s clearly the best reason to hire him.  But the fact that he has the money and scale to operate a training  center and have a staff whose sole purpose is to cater to baseball players — and the fact that it’s located in beautiful Southern California — has to be a pretty big differentiator.

*May not be true.

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.