Despite battling a case of shingles, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made his regular weekly appearance Sunday on KMOX radio and gave an update on his status. B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest has the goods.
“We’re going to get together with (general manager) John Mozeliak and our team doctors and trainers tomorrow and figure out the smartest thing to do,” La Russa said Sunday. “I’ll be patient one more day and see what that discussion goes like. It’s been hard because you take responsibility for your position and being there but the only thing that’s really helped is I know the quality of our staff. There wasn’t anything that happened that I could have done anything better with.”
La Russa missed his sixth consecutive game Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati, but he’s been calling in daily lineups to acting manager Joe Pettini and staying plenty active with the day-to-day operations of the club.
The Cards open a two-game series against the Phillies on Monday in St. Louis and then host the Astros for a two-game set Wednesday and Thursday. It seems likely that La Russa will return during that four-game span.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.