Juan Pierre wins it for Phillies in 11th

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Juan Pierre has collected more infield hits than anyone else in the game since arriving in the majors in 2000, but he had never won a game with one until now.

Pierre beat out a grounder to deep short in the bottom of the 11th inning to score Jimmy Rollins and give the Phillies an 8-7 win over the Cardinals on Sunday.

It was Pierre’s sixth career game-winning hit. Half of them came in the Marlins’ championship year in 2003. He also had one for Florida in 2005, one for the White Sox last year and now today’s. All six hits were singles, but the first five all went to the outfield.

The Phillies were in a position to win it today because journeyman catcher Erik Kratz came up big with a three-run homer in the eighth. The 33-year-old Kratz entered the 2012 season with 40 at-bats and one RBI as a major leaguer. Filling in for Brian Schneider earlier and Carlos Ruiz currently, he has five homers, five doubles and 12 RBI in 45 at-bats this year.

The victory went to Jeremy Horst, his first in 27 appearances as a major leaguer. Left-hander Barret Browning took his second loss in three days for the Cardinals.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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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 could start 2017 on the disabled list

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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.