Rafael Furcal won’t have any limitations with elbow injury

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Rafael Furcal was shut down in August with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which is the same injury that requires Tommy John surgery for pitchers.

Shortstops are pretty reliant on their arm strength too, but Furcal opted against surgery and so far at least that looks like the right call. An offseason MRI exam showed that the ligament had healed on its own and now Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Furcal has been cleared to hit, field, and throw.

Manager Mike Matheny made it clear that the Cardinals will monitor Furcal and his spring training workload closely, but he’s in line to be the Opening Day starter.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.