Dustin Pedroia has played through a partially torn adductor muscle in his right thumb for much of the season, but now a “new” thumb injury has forced the Red Sox second baseman to the disabled list.
Boston made the move official before tonight’s game, with manager Bobby Valentine telling reporters that Pedroia’s current injury is a sprained right thumb that’s unrelated to the previous injury and occurred Tuesday while diving for a ball defensively.
Valentine indicated during an interview with WEEI radio that the Red Sox hope to have Pedroia back shortly after the All-Star break, and in the meantime they called up infielder Pedro Ciriaco from Triple-A to take his roster spot.
Pedroia got off to a strong start this season, hitting .295 with an .850 OPS to basically duplicate his career norms through 48 games, but since suffering the initial thumb injury on May 28 he’s hit just .210 with a .587 OPS in 26 games.
Ciriaco is a 26-year-old journeyman who was signed as a minor-league free agent in January and has never hit much in the minors, so he’s more likely to serve as a bench depth than to fill in for Pedroia. Of course, with presumed fill-in Nick Punto hitting just .180 and third baseman Will Middlebrooks also banged up Valentine may feel like getting creative with the infield.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.