Adam Jones to see hand specialist about injured thumb

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The Orioles had Adam Jones on the original lineup card for last night’s game against the Angels, but he was scratched after feeling consistent pain in his ailing right thumb after taking his first swing during batting practice.

Jones hasn’t started a game since last Friday due to the injury. While it has bothered him off and on since May, the pain has intensified over the past week. X-rays on the thumb came back negative, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Jones was scheduled to be examined by a hand specialist last night.

“I’m mad,” Jones said. “But at the end of the day I don’t want to hurt myself or the team and right now I’d be hurting myself and the team.”

“I don’t know exactly what it is,” he said. “It is annoying me and I know I want to be on the field with my teammates.”

Jones, 26, is batting .280/.320/.463 with 23 home runs, 80 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .783 OPS over 583 plate appearances this season. While he has posted career highs in OPS+ and ISO (Isolated Power), he has ranked below-average defensively in center field for three straight seasons, according to Ultimate Zone Rating. He leads American League center fielders this season with eight errors.

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.