Cardinals remove struggling Ryan Franklin from closer role

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The Cardinals have finally done the inevitable.

While Tony La Russa wouldn’t say the change is permanent, he told B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest this afternoon that struggling closer Ryan Franklin will not be used in the ninth inning for the time being.

Franklin has allowed six runs on eight hits — including three home runs — over 4 2/3 innings this season, blowing four out of his first five save opportunities.

“It’s a combination of things,” La Russa said. “He’s in a little bit of a rut. …You treat him like a hitter that’s struggling. You change his responsibility for a little bit.”

Ever-unpredictable, La Russa wouldn’t say who he would turn to should a save situation present itself tonight against the Nationals.

“Watch the game,” La Russa said. “We’ll see. I think the thing you do is you watch the game and see who comes out there. We can talk about it afterwards.”

Right-hander Mitchell Boggs is considered the favorite for the role, while 40-year-old Miguel Batista and fireballer Jason Motte are also possibilities.

Braves sign David Hernandez

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Bill Whitehead of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Braves have signed reliever David Hernandez to a minor league contract on Sunday. He’ll report to spring training as a non-roster invitee.

Hernandez, who turns 32 years old in May, signed a minor league contract with the Giants in February. He requested and was granted his release on Friday when he learned he wasn’t making the team’s 25-man roster to open the season.

Hernandez pitched for the Phillies last year. He compiled a 3.84 ERA with an 80/32 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dave Roberts: It “doesn’t make sense” for Scott Kazmir to start year in Dodgers’ rotation

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Scott Kazmir won’t begin the regular season in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts said after Kazmir’s Cactus League outing on Sunday that it “doesn’t make sense” for the ailing Kazmir to break camp in the rotation, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. The lefty will instead rehab some more and join the rotation at a later time.

Kazmir has been battling a hip issue which has caused his mechanics to suffer. He was clocked in the low 80’s 10 days ago and wasn’t much better on Sunday afternoon.

Last season with the Dodgers, Kazmir posted a 4.56 ERA with a 134/52 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings, his worst numbers since returning to the majors in 2013.