Nick Punto out 8-12 weeks following hernia surgery

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Nick Punto visited a specialist after showing up at Cardinals camp with groin soreness and the doctor gave him some bad news, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that he’ll be out 8-12 weeks following hernia surgery.

According to Goold the diagnosis is that Punto has a “sports hernia/hockey hernia” and general manager John Mozeliak indicated that the Cardinals don’t expect him to be available until “sometime in May.”

Punto signed a one-year, $750,000 deal with St. Louis after spending the past seven seasons in Minnesota. He was expected to serve as the Cardinals’ primary backup infielder and would likely have been in line for some early starts at third base depending on David Freese’s status. Ramon Vazquez, Tyler Greene, and Daniel Descalso are the other utility man candidates in camp.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.