Rays hope designated hitter duties will keep Evan Longoria in the lineup with foot injury

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In an effort to keep Evan Longoria in the lineup and off the disabled list after aggravating the plantar fasciitis in his right foot the Rays will use the third baseman at designated hitter.

Longoria missed three games with a tear in his foot, returning Tuesday at DH, and told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune:

If I can be in the lineup and be effective offensively, then that’s, obviously, more important than trying to do two things at once and not being able to do either one of them effectively. I’m happy at where I’m at considering the circumstances. Happy that I’m at least able to be in the lineup. We’ll take it day-by-day as far as where we are playing the field.

Not exactly encouraging words, although he’s certainly right that Longoria at DH is better than Longoria on the DL. Kelly Johnson and Ryan Roberts figure to split time at third base and using Longoria at DH means less playing time for Luke Scott.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.