Nick Markakis grand slam

Nick Markakis expects to be ready for Opening Day following abdominal surgery

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Nick Markakis is currently working his way back from surgery earlier this month to repair a torn rectus abdominus muscle. During an appearance at Orioles’ FanFest earlier today, the 28-year-old outfielder told Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com that while he’ll probably be limited until the first week of March, he expects to be ready for Opening Day on April 6 against the Twins.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “It’s a sensitive area where I got cut open and as far as pain-wise, I don’t have any pain. It’s just uncomfortable. It’s not being able to do certain things I want to do. It seems like a long recovery, but I know it’s going to be over before I know it and then we’ll be rolling.

“I’m just glad to get it done and I’m just ready to get it all over with,” Markakis said. “I’ll be ready for Opening Day.”

Markakis is beginning to ramp up his rehab following surgery, currently focusing on pool activities to strengthen his core and some light jogging.

Markakis batted .284/.351/.406 with 15 home runs, 73 RBI, 12 stolen bases and a .756 OPS last season while winning his first Gold Glove Award for his play in right field. He signed a six-year, $66 million contract extension with the Orioles in January of 2009 which will pay him $12 million this season, $15 million in 2013 and 2014 and either a $17.5 million club option or a $2 million buyout in 2015.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.