The Cardinals are interested in Yuniesky Betancourt

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Shortstop Rafael Furcal will miss the entire 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, leaving the Cardinals in a bit of a pickle. Pete Kozma and Ronny Cedeno are next in line, but the Cardinals are looking for a more established player from outside the organization. That player just might be Yuniesky Betancourt, reports Nick Cafardo:

He has improved his visibility, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see a team deal for him before the season. The best thing that happened for Betancourt is Jimmy Rollins playing in the WBC. Betancourt is also in good shape, which has been a challenge for him in the past. With a March 24 opt-out in his minor league deal, he’s on the Cardinals’ list as they attempt to replace Rafael Furcal.

In 35 spring at-bats with the Phillies, Betancourt is hitting .400 with just one strikeout. However, since 2009, he has been by far the worst position player in baseball (minimum 1,000 plate appearances). Given the strong spring showing by Freddy Galvis, who is capable of playing second base, third base, and shortstop, the Phillies feel a lot more comfortable sending away their only other shortstop-capable infielder.

Erasmo Ramirez to be shut down with a minor lat strain

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Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s a precautionary move, as Ramirez felt some tightness in his arm and could not complete his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday.

There’s no word yet on whether Ramirez will be able to recover in time for the start of the season, though he’s expected to claim a rotation spot again this spring. The 28-year-old righty has been dogged by injuries throughout his six-year career, but finally managed to piece together a full season on the mound in back-to-back stints with the Rays and Mariners in 2017. He went 5-6 in 19 starts for the two clubs and turned in a cumulative 4.39 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 131 1/3 innings.

The Mariners are no stranger to pitcher injuries, either. They lost a number of their top arms to various elbow, arm and shoulder injuries last year and cycled through 40 total pitchers as they limped toward a 78-84 finish. Comments from club manager Scott Servais indicate that the team will keep a close eye on Ramirez throughout his recovery, though Divish notes that right-hander Andrew Moore and lefty Ariel Miranda could also slot into the no. 5 spot if Ramirez experiences further setbacks.