Kendrys Morales “a little sore” after third game in four days

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Kendrys Morales is finally making significant progress in his now two-year-long recovery from a broken ankle.

Morales played in a minor-league game yesterday for the third time in four days, afterward telling Marcia Smith of the Orange County Register that his twice-repaired ankle “is a little sore, but I’m fine and will hit again tomorrow.” Morales added that “I’m excited to hit again. I’m feeling more comfortable.”

Counting on Morales returning to his pre-injury production is obviously asking a lot, but having the switch-hitter in the middle of the lineup again could be huge for the Angels. In the 203 games preceding the injury Morales hit .302 with 45 homers, 48 doubles, and a .901 OPS, and even after missing nearly two whole seasons he’s still just 28 years old.

Manager Mike Scioscia described Morales as having made “leaps and bounds” within the past 10 days, so there may finally be a light at the end of the tunnel.

UPDATE: Not so fast, apparently. Morales is out of the lineup today because of shin soreness.

Red Sox sign Christian Vazquez to three-year, $13.55 million extension

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The Red Sox signed catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $13.55 million extension, per a team announcement on Saturday. The agreement will keep Vazquez under contract through the 2021 season and covers two years of arbitration eligibility and the catcher’s first year of free agency. It comes with a $7 million club option (and $250,000 buyout) for 2022 that could get bumped up to $8 million if he reaches 502 plate appearances in both 2020 and 2021. Vazquez has also volunteered to make an annual donation to the Red Sox Foundation as part of his new arrangement with the club.

The 27-year-old backstop is entering his fourth year with the Red Sox in 2018. He’s been a steady defender behind the dish over the last three years and was ranked fifth-best in defense among all American League catchers at the end of the 2017 season. He also enjoyed a breakout performance at the plate, slashing a career-best .290/.330/.404 with five home runs and a .735 OPS in 345 plate appearances.

Come Opening Day, Vazquez is expected to be the Red Sox’ primary option behind the plate, with veteran Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart poised to start in backup roles. Swihart is out of options, but has been groomed for a utility role this spring and could take a few reps in the left field and the infield corners if need be, as it doesn’t appear the club is prepared to trade him just yet.