Troubling news Wednesday out of Cardinals camp.
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Peter Bourjos has been held out of Grapefruit League action since Sunday because of what’s being called a “tight leg.” Bourjos has already been ruled out for Thursday’s Grapefruit League tilt with the Twins and it’s not clear when he might be cleared to return.
Bourjos dealt with chronic hamstring issues at the end of his tenure with the Angels. And his game, which is very defense and speed oriented, relies heavily on his legs being in good health. So this situation is more worrisome than a typical complaint of early-spring soreness.
The Cardinals acquired Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk this winter from the Angels for third baseman David Freese and right-hander Fernando Salas. Bourjos is expected to serve as the primary center fielder this year in St. Louis. Jon Jay, a far weaker defender, is the Cards’ current backup option.
Top prospect Oscar Taveras is still working to return to full strength from last year’s ankle surgery.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”