The Cardinals put crosses on the mound. This is a problem?

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Bill McLellan of the Post-Dispatch is a bit uneasy:

Perhaps you saw the mention in Sunday’s Sports section about the Christian iconography on the mound at Busch Stadium. Apparently, somebody on the grounds crew etches a cross into the dirt. Perhaps that’s appropriate. This is a Christian team, and the Christianity leans toward the evangelical side.

…Still, I look at the photos of that cross etched on the mound and I get an uneasy feeling … Now there’s a cross etched on to the mound at Busch Stadium. Certainly, the players don’t seem bothered by it. Adam Wainwright told the Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold that the cross, and a looping figure said to represent Stan Musial’s number 6, had been there for all his starts. The tribute to Musial seems harmless. Not so the cross. Does religion need to be that prominent in a baseball game? I’m not pretending it’s a big deal. But still, I have an uneasy feeling about a cross etched on the mound.

Look, I’m a godless, lefty, agnostic, pinko degenerate (or so I’m told) but I’m really struggling to see how this is a problem. I also fail to see how this is even remotely related to national security and NSA spying and the Patriot Act and all of that, but McLellan goes there too.

The Cardinals aren’t the government. In most places of work employees are allowed to put up some sort of token or symbol of their religion, and the pitchers mound is the pitchers’ cubicle for all practical purposes. I’m not sure what the problem is here. I believe in the Constitution’s anti-establishment clause. But the notion, which is implicit in McClellan’s piece, that it or allied concerns extend to some sort of problem with the public expression of religion is pretty insane.

I get mad when the government sanctions religion or passes laws which are based in some particular religion’s morality. But if I’m a Cardinals fan I’m cool with this. I’m cool with them giving burnt offerings to pagan gods or pouring out rum for Jobu if it makes Cardinals pitchers work fast and throw strikes. How this is even a thing is beyond me.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.