Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune has the scoop:
Looking to upgrade in right field, the Pirates are studying deals for Nate Schierholtz and Alex Rios. It is possible that they’ll make a move sooner rather than later, as they are tied for the NL Central lead while last in OPS at the position (slash line of .239/.302/.377 from seven right fielders, with Travis Snider getting the most playing time).
Rogers calls a Rios trade “a reach” because the 32-year-old outfielder is still owed $13.5 million after this season. Schierholtz, 29, signed a one-year, $2.25 million free agent contract with the Cubs this winter.
Rogers suggests that the Bucs could platoon the left-handed-hitting Schierholtz with right-handed-hitting outfielder Jose Tabata. Schierholtz has a superb .862 OPS against right-handed pitchers this season.
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.
Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.
Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.
How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.
As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.