I’m really pretty happy to see Nick Johnson back in the majors.
The 33-year-old Johnson had his best game of the season Friday in a win over the Rays, going 2-for-2 with a homer, a walk and a stolen base as Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 4-3. It was his first homer of the season.
Credit the Orioles for sticking with Johnson after he went 0-for-26 in April. He’s now 7-for-17 with three doubles and six RBI this month.
Best of all, he’s played in 14 games without getting hurt. The Orioles have spotted him pretty well so far and haven’t needed to expand his role with Chris Davis playing well at first base. Used as an occasional DH against right-handers, he might actually be able to contribute all season.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
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.