Royals move Aaron Crow back to bullpen following Joakim Soria’s elbow injury

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So much for Aaron Crow’s transition from reliever to starter.

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals have decided to cancel those plans and move Crow back to the bullpen following Joakim Soria’s elbow injury.

Soria was diagnosed with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament and might be headed for Tommy John surgery, which would move Jonathan Broxton or Greg Holland into the closer role and create a setup man opening for Crow.

Crow made the All-Star team as a rookie reliever last season and finished with a 2.76 ERA and 65/31 K/BB ratio in 65 innings, but the 25-year-old right-hander was a starter in college and the minors. However, he posted a 5.26 ERA in 32 starts as a minor leaguer and there was some skepticism about whether Crow had the off-speed stuff to thrive as a starter. And now we may never find out.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.