Yadier Molina headed to disabled list with right knee sprain

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The biggest series in PNC Park history is off to a promising start. For the home team, that is.

The Cardinals entered the five-game set with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Pirates in the National League Central standings and are now 1 1/2 games back after three straight losses. But wait. There’s more.

According to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch, Yadier Molina was lifted in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s 6-0 defeat with what’s being called a right knee sprain. Yadi allowed a rare passed ball in the second inning and did not even attempt a throw on a runner stealing second base a few pitches earlier.

The Cardinals are going to reevaluate the five-time Gold Glove winner on Wednesday morning. It seems highly possible that Tony Cruz and Rob Johnson will have to finish out this crucial series in Pittsburgh.

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UPDATE, 11:33 p.m. ET: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Molina is headed back to St. Louis for an MRI on his right knee. He is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.