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Matt Carpenter has withdrawn from the World Baseball Classic

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Cardinals’ first baseman Matt Carpenter won’t be joining Team USA when the World Baseball Classic kicks off on Monday. Club manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak confirmed the withdrawal, though the decision was left up to Carpenter in the days preceding the tournament.

The infielder had been taking things slow in camp this spring and was scratched from a spring training game on Thursday after experiencing tightness in his lower back. Now, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that the infielder is taking preventative measures to make sure the soreness does not spread to his oblique, especially in light of the right oblique injury that sidelined him through nearly a full month of the 2016 season. He’s expected to continue running defensive drills in camp, but won’t be swinging a bat for the remainder of the weekend and likely won’t appear in a game until next Friday’s match-up with the Nationals.

This would have been Carpenter’s first appearance in the World Baseball Classic. There was some chatter about his return to Team USA during the second round of the WBC, but as Rob Rains of Stlsportspage.com points out, that rule is exclusively reserved for pitchers. Instead, he’s scheduled to be replaced by the Pirates’ Josh Harrison, who will assume a utility role under the direction of Team USA manager Jim Leyland.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. lays out to make a great catch in deep right-center field

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Cubs center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. robbed Giants first baseman Brandon Belt of at least a double in the top of the first inning of Monday’s game at Wrigley Field. Almora completely left his feet to catch the ball before landing just shy of the warning track.

The Giants took the early lead two batters prior to Belt’s at-bat as Joe Panik hit a solo home run to center field.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.