Lance Berkman sidelined with slight strain of right rotator cuff

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The Cardinals are without one of their most important bats tonight as they continue to duke it out in the ultra-competitive National League Central.

B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest reports that Lance Berkman will sit out tonight’s series opener against the Astros after he suffered a slight strain of his right rotator cuff on his final swing during Sunday’s game against the Pirates.

“Just when I took that last swing,” Berkman said. “Clearly there was something funny because the ball went one way and the shortstop ran up the middle. It was just strange.

“It hurt me when I got to first. Right when I did it, I didn’t feel anything that I can remember. It happened so fast, but I got down to first base and I was like, ‘My goodness’. It just didn’t feel good.”

While Berkman’s absence tonight ends a streak of 40 consecutive games played dating back to June 7, the good news is that he doesn’t anticipate missing more than “a day or two.”

Berkman, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract over the winter, is batting .288/.400/.599 with a .999 OPS in 365 plate appearances this season. He leads the National League with 27 home runs and ranks fourth with 69 RBI.

Report: Momentum in talks between Mariners, Jon Jay

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that there is some momentum in talks between the Mariners and free agent outfielder Jon Jay.

Jay, 32, hit .296/.374/.375 in 433 plate appearances with the Cubs last season, which is adequate. He’s heralded more for his defense and his ability to play all three outfield spots.

The Mariners are losing center fielder Jarrod Dyson to free agency and likely don’t want to rely on Guillermo Heredia next season, hence the interest in Jay. The free agent class for center fielders is otherwise relatively weak.