Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz played a month with forearm stress fracture

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Yadier Molina returning from a sprained knee yesterday led to the Cardinals placing catcher Tony Cruz on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his right forearm. And as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports, it turns out Cruz had been playing through the stress fracture for weeks and possibly as long as a month.

According to Goold an MRI exam and CT scan Monday revealed the stress fracture in the middle of his forearm … and then Cruz still started at catcher on Tuesday and Wednesday, explaining:

There was a chance of an actual break. That was the risk I was taking. … It was bothering me quite a bit and it’s a grind. I tried to hang in there as long as I could. I’d rather be out there with the guys. Hopefully this is what it takes to get better.

Asked about allowing Cruz to continue playing with the injury, manager Mike Matheny said:

We were told he’d be OK to play as long as we were real careful and we were aware of what was going on in there. We were careful.

Obviously the Molina injury left the Cardinals short-handed behind the plate, but to risk Cruz’s health like that certainly seems questionable. And it’s not like Cruz is a superstar player they absolutely needed in the lineup at all costs. He’s a 26-year-old with little big-league experience and a sub-.700 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).