Here are the lineups for Game 1 of the Rangers-Cardinals series tonight:
TEXAS RANGERS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B 1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Elvis Andrus, SS 2. Jon Jay, CF
3. Josh Hamilton, CF 3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Michael Young, 1B 4. Matt Holliday, LF
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B 5. Lance Berkman, RF
6. Nelson Cruz, RF 6. David Freese, 3B
7. Mike Napoli, C 7. Yadier Molina, C
8. David Murphy, LF 8. Nick Punto, 2B
SP C.J. Wilson, LHP SP Chris Carpenter, RHP
Ron Washington talked about possibly moving Nelson Cruz up in the batting order after the right fielder slugged six homers in the ALCS and sure enough Cruz is hitting sixth tonight rather than his usual seventh. Mike Napoli moves down to accommodate Cruz, which means the catcher’s team-high 1.046 OPS will be in the No. 7 spot. Without the designated hitter to work with Washington has benched Mitch Moreland and has Michael Young at first base.
St. Louis’ lineup is quite different than the last time they faced a left-hander (Randy Wolf in Game 4 of the NLCS). Jon Jay was moved to the bottom of the lineup in that game, but tonight he remains in the No. 2 spot. And manager Tony La Russa is going with Nick Punto rather than Ryan Theriot (or a now healthy Skip Schumaker) at second base. Lance Berkman has typically been much worse versus lefties, but he’s starting and batting fifth while Allen Craig comes off the bench.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.