Cardinals sign Eugenio Velez to minor league contract

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From Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch comes word that the Cardinals have inked utilityman Eugenio Velez to a minor league contract. They also signed left-hander R.J. Swindle to a similar deal.

Velez collected no hits in 40 plate appearances this past year for the Dodgers and posted a brutal .164/.246/.309 batting line in 29 games for the Dodgers in 2010. The 29-year-old is not expected to crack the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster and is likely to function merely as organizational depth.

Swindle, 28, has only nine major league relief appearances to his name. He registered a 4.15 ERA and 36/17 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 innings this past season for the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham, North Carolina.

Eric Thames hit two more homers

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And John Lackey is livid.

The Brewers’ first baseman homered in each of his first two plate appearances against Reds starter Amir Garrett on Monday evening, helping his team to a 6-1 lead after two frames. The first was a solo blast in the first inning, and the second was a two-run shot to the opposite field in the second inning.

According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, Thames has tied the Brewers’ record for home runs in April with 10. Carlos Lee also hit 10 homers in April 2006.

Seven of Thames’ 10 home runs have come against the Reds. Including his first two at-bats on Monday night, Thames is hitting .379/.474/.924 with 17 RBI along with the 10 dingers. Not too shabby from a guy the Brewers signed to a three-year, $16 million contract during the offseason.

Lackey and Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio both recently implied Thames is using performance-enhancing drugs, but Thames was tested immediately after last Monday’s game against the Cubs.

Giants promote top prospect Christian Arroyo

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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that the Giants have promoted top infield prospect Christian Arroyo from Triple-A Sacramento. MLB Pipeline rated Arroyo as the Giants’ No. 2 prospect behind pitcher Tyler Beede and the team’s best position player prospect.

Arroyo, 21, was selected in the first round (25th overall) of the 2013 draft. He started the year at Triple-A for the first time and he hit an astounding .446/.478/.692 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 69 plate appearances to start the season.

The Giants, 6-13, are looking to regain their balance after unexpectedly losing ace Madison Bumgarner, who sustained injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day. Arroyo will likely play third base regularly over Eduardo Nunez.