Skip Schumaker, Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter

Pujols has no plans to talk contract upon arrival to camp

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Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is dominating the headlines this week, and that probably won’t change in the coming weeks and months until some kind of resolution is reached about his expiring contract.

SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported earlier today that there is “virtually no chance” of Pujols and the Cards finding a middle ground on an extension before the slugger arrives at spring training next Wednesday, February 16.  Now Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com is reporting that Pujols has no plans to address the media on his day of arrival either.

That’s Albert’s prerogative, just as it’s his prerogative to seek out as much money as he can possibly find either from the Cardinals this spring or as a free agent next winter.  But Pujols set that mid-February deadline two months ago because he wanted to “avoid distractions” while preparing for the 2011 season, and that simply isn’t going to happen.

Cardinals camp will be flooded with reporters on February 16 and they will all want to ask Pujols about his contract status.  How many times can one guy respond “no comment” before a chair goes flying?

Even if Pujols makes it through that day without getting frustrated by the throngs of media members who want a sound byte from baseball’s best hitter, the rest of the spring is not going to be a breeze and the regular season will probably be even worse.  Reporters who cover road teams are going to ask him about his contract status after every single game and a packaged response may only work for so long.

Albert can probably handle it.  The Cardinals’ media relations department will do a fine job of blocking potential problems and keeping things well mannered, but Pujols will soon come to realize that his 2011 spring and summer won’t be distraction-free if he is indeed an impending free agent.

For a guy who likes to keep things close to the vest, this will all be strange territory.

Hisashi Iwakuma’s 2017 option vests, but salary still undetermined

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: Hisashi Iwakuma #18 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the third inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 13, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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With last Wednesday’s start against the Yankees, Mariners hurler Hisashi Iwakuma pushed his 2016 innings total up to 2016. That clears the 162-inning hurdle for his 2017 option to vest at $14 million. However, as Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors reports, the language in Iwakuma’s contract also stipulates that the right-hander finish the season without suffering a specific injury.

Iwakuma, 35, was in agreement with the Dodgers on a three-year contract back in December but failed the physical, which nullified the deal. He ended up signing with the Mariners on a one-year, $12 million deal with a full no-trade clause and club options for 2017 and ’18 that vest at specific inning thresholds (162 each or 324 for both seasons).

This season, Iwakuma has stayed healthy, making 26 starts to the tune of a 14-9 record, a 3.81 ERA and a 118/36 K/BB ratio in 163 innings.

Ichiro Suzuki passes Wade Boggs for 27th on baseball’s all-time hits list

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 28: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins grounds out during the 2nd inning against the San Diego Padres at Marlins Park on August 28, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Eric Espada/Getty Images
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Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki deposited a single to left-center field in the fourth inning of Monday night’s game against the Mets, then added a double to center field in the eighth. Those mark hits No. 3,010 and 3,011 for Suzuki in his major league career, tying and then moving past Wade Boggs for sole possession of 27th on baseball’s all-time hits list.

Suzuki would come around to score on a double by Xavier Scruggs to break a scoreless tie in the eighth.

Here’s the video of Ichiro’s first hit.

By the end of the season, Suzuki will have presumably moved ahead of Rafael Palmeiro (26th; 3,020) and Lou Brock (25th; 3,023).

Suzuki was 2-for-4 after the double. With baseball’s fifth month nearly complete, the 42-year-old is currently batting .298/.371/.373.