The Braves recently lost Andrelton Simmons due to a fractured right pinkie finger, so they opened the second half of the season with Jack Wilson as the only healthy shortstop on their roster. And wouldn’t you know it, Wilson ended up getting hurt last night against the Mets.
Wilson was forced to leave the game after suffering a dislocation of the middle joint of his right pinkie finger in the fourth inning while chasing after a ball which deflected off Tim Hudson’s glove. This forced Martin Prado to play shortstop for the first time since 2008. To his credit, Prado actually made a couple of difficult plays, including a nifty backhanded flip to second base on his first chance to end a scoring threat in the fourth.
X-rays came back negative on Wilson’s finger and he’s currently listed as day-to-day, but it’s clear the Braves need to get some shortstop help. Tyler Pastornicky is not considered an option after struggling in his first taste of the big leagues, so the Braves are expected to go outside the organization. Even before the injury to Wilson last night, Braves general manager Frank Wren told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he is working on a deal.
UPDATE: Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that Pastornicky has been called up from Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves were giving Pastornicky playing time at second base in recent weeks and plan to turn him into a utility player, but he’ll function as a stopgap option at shortstop for now. Even with Pastornicky up from the minors, Prado is making the start today.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.