Even if the Cardinals turn to Allen Craig as Albert Pujols’ replacement they may still have to find someone else to start on Opening Day.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Craig underwent right knee surgery before Thanksgiving and “the club is braced for the possibility that he won’t be available” for the beginning of the season.
According to Goold the injury dates back to Craig crashing into the wall at Minute Maid Park in Houston and the surgery involved having “a couple screws placed in his right kneecap to repair the damage.”
Craig played and played well through the injury, with a big September followed by four postseason homers, but his recovery timetable is expected to be 4-6 months. That would seemingly make him unlikely to return before mid-April and any kind of setback could cost him most of May as well.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.