Joakim Soria needs season-ending Tommy John surgery

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Joakim Soria got second and third opinions after being diagnosed with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament and they all agreed, so the 27-year-old Royals closer will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery on April 3.

Typically recovery timetables are 12-18 months, so Soria will miss the entire season and could be limited in early 2013 as well.

Soria is owed $6 million this season and the Royals have an $8 million option or $750,000 buyout for 2013 and an $8.75 million option or $750,000 buyout for 2014. Much like Adam Wainwright with the Cardinals last year, the Royals may have to make a decision on Soria’s future before having a clear sense of his recovery.

Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland are the options to replace Soria as closer, but manager Ned Yost hasn’t made a decision yet. Or at least hasn’t announced his decision publicly yet. And with one of those two moving from a setup role to ninth-inning duties the Royals have canceled plans to shift Aaron Crow from the bullpen to the rotation.

Soria had a helluva run for the Royals, going from unknown to stud closer in 2007 and saving 160 games with a 2.40 ERA and 341 strikeouts in 315 innings over five seasons. During that time the only pitcher with more saves and a lower ERA than Soria was Mariano Rivera.

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.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.