Ryan Zimmerman not near return from abdominal strain

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Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was cleared to resume performing baseball activities earlier this week and he is doing some light drills. But it’s going to be a long time before we see him back in a major league uniform.

Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington watched Zimmerman play a light game of catch on Thursday afternoon and came away thinking that the 26-year-old “won’t be back for awhile.”

Zimmerman is suffering from a strained muscle in his abdomen and hasn’t played since April 9. He still isn’t taking live batting practice and will probably need a week of minor league at-bats before the Nationals deem him ready to return.

Zimmerman posted a .357/.486/.536 with one home run and four RBI through the Nats’ first eight games.

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.