Allen Craig to begin season on disabled list following offseason knee surgery

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There was some optimism last weekend that Allen Craig could potentially make the Cardinals’ roster as a bench player as he continues his rehab from offseason surgery on his right knee, but things have changed over the past few days.

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Craig will be placed on the 15-day disabled list now that outfielder Shane Robinson was awarded a spot on the Opening Day roster. The decision doesn’t come as a major surprise, as Cardinals manager Mike Matheny admitted on Wednesday that they have “taken a step back” with Craig’s timetable.

It sounds like the smart move, as there’s no need to rush him back in a limited capacity if they can have him back at 100 percent in a couple of weeks. The Cardinals will backdate the disabled list stint, so they could have him back as soon as April 10 if all goes well. Craig was originally expected to miss the first month of the season, so he’s still way ahead of schedule.

Craig has a .290/.339/.503 batting line and an .842 OPS over his first 343 major league plate appearances. The 27-year-old projects to be used in a utility role this season, possibly playing right field against left-handed starters while Carlos Beltran slides over to center and Jon Jay sits.

Shelby Miller left Sunday’s start with forearm tightness

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Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller left Sunday’s start against the Dodgers after four-plus innings due to tightness in his right forearm, the team announced. He’ll be reevaluated tomorrow. Needless to say, though, a forearm injury is very concerning. In his four innings, Miller gave up three runs on four hits and five walks with three strikeouts, raising his ERA to 4.09.

Miller, 26, has had a nightmare of a time since joining the Diamondbacks in December 2015. Last year, he made 20 starts and posted a 6.15 ERA. He suffered a finger injury suffered from scraping his hand on the pitcher’s mound with his follow-through, and he was also demoted to Triple-A during the summer as well.

Ivan Nova finally issued his first walk. It was to an AL pitcher taking his first major league at-bat.

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Pirates starter Ivan Nova has been outstanding in his first three starts of the 2017 season. He yielded only five earned runs in 20 innings for a tidy 2.25 ERA. But even more impressively, Nova didn’t issue a walk in any of those starts.

That changed on Sunday afternoon against the Yankees, but in a most peculiar way. Nova had struck out the side in the first inning, notched a 1-2-3 frame in the second, and got two quick ground outs to begin the third inning, bringing up Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery for his first major league at-bat. Montgomery never batted in the minor leagues, either, so Sunday’s AB against Nova was his first since his senior year of high school in 2011. Montgomery took the first two pitches for balls, then a called strike, a ball, and another called strike to even the count. Nova came in with his sixth consecutive fastball but it missed low, walking the Yankees’ pitcher for his first free pass of the 2017 season.

Nova got out of the inning without any further issue. He wound up going seven innings, giving up a lone run on four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts, lowering his ERA to an even 2.00.