Indians drub White Sox to cut AL Central deficit to five games

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Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez turned in a solid effort while the offense provided more than enough support to cut their deficit in the AL Central to five games. Meanwhile, the Tigers lost 1-0 to the Royals.

The offense put up a five-spot in the fourth on a two-run home run by Asdrubal Cabrera and a three-run home run by Lonnie Chisenhall, taking advantage of White Sox starter Andre Rienzo. The Indians tacked on two more in the sixth on Carlos Santana’s two-run single to center, which was initially deflected by shortstop Alexei Ramirez. One more run was added in the ninth on Ryan Raburn’s sacrifice fly.

The way Ubaldo Jimenez was pitching, though, the Indians didn’t need that many runs. The right-hander went eight and one-third innings, allowing just one run on eight hits and a walk while striking out eight. He allowed two consecutive singles with one out in the ninth before giving way to reliever C.C. Lee, who promptly allowed a single to load the bases. After surrendering a sacrifice fly to Josh Phegley, he retired Marcus Semien to end the contest.

With the 8-1 win, the Indians improve to 80-68, just five games behind the Tigers for first place in the AL Central. They also move one game behind the Rays for the second AL Wild Card.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.