Giants not yet ready to recall Brandon Belt

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Thanks to Darren Ford’s ankle sprain, it sounds like the Giants will soon have a roster spot open up.  However, manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that a move involving Brandon Belt isn’t likely.

“To be honest, Belt is more of a longshot,” Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle.  “What we’re looking for is more of a bench type player and more depth, a pinch-hitter.”

Belt, who struggled as the Giants’ first baseman while Cody Ross was on the DL last month, is batting .351/.484/.546 with four homers and 21 RBI in 30 games for Triple-A Fresno.  He’s dominated righties to the tune of a .394/.531/.606 line.

With the Giants struggling to score runs, bringing up Belt and using him as a platoon left fielder would make sense.  However, the Giants don’t want to go that route yet.  They’re certainly a far better defensive team with Nate Schierholtz in right and Ross in left, an alignment they’ve been using more frequently lately.

Besides, even though they’re dead last in the NL in runs scored, the Giants are sitting in first place in the NL West with a 27-20 record.  And their road to returning to the playoffs appeared to get a little smoother with Tuesday’s news that the Rockies’ Jorge De La Rosa would need Tommy John surgery.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.