Aaron Gleeman

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Henderson Alvarez on track to join A’s rotation in May


A’s right-hander Henderson Alvarez took a big step Tuesday in his recovery from July shoulder surgery, throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session without experiencing any issues.

A’s manager Bob Melvin told Jane Lee of MLB.com that “it’s all fastballs right now, but we like what we’re seeing” from Alvarez, who spent 2013-2015 with the Marlins and was an All-Star in 2014.

Lee writes that the current plan for Alvarez’s recovery is to be pitching in minor-league games by April and, if things go well there, to come off the disabled list and join the A’s rotation some time in May.

Alvarez was non-tendered by the Marlins and his one-year deal with the A’s makes it clear that they expect him to have a significant impact this season, because it’s worth $4.25 million in upfront money and the contract doesn’t include a team option for 2017. They’re betting on Alvarez this year.

Jhonny Peralta’s fill-in? Aledmys Diaz announces candidacy with four-hit game

St. Louis Cardinals' Aledmys Diaz hits a single   in the fourth inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Friday, March 21, 2014, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Jhonny Peralta‘s torn thumb ligament means the Cardinals are in need of a new starting shortstop for at least the first month of the season and possibly much longer. Jedd Gyorko going from utility man to starter is an obvious possibility, but don’t count out 25-year-old prospect Aledmys Diaz getting the job.

Diaz went 4-for-4 with two doubles today against the Twins and afterward manager Mike Matheny sure seemed impressed. When asked by Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com if it was worth putting a lot of stock in Diaz’s performance, Matheny replied: “Why wouldn’t you? You have young player who plays the position and had a great game.”

Diaz spent last season between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .278 with 13 homers and a .784 OPS in 116 games. Those are certainly solid overall numbers for a 24-year-old shortstop and within that production Diaz had a huge stretch run in which he hit .376 in August and September.

A few more big games and he might convince Matheny and company to leave Gyorko in a bench role.

Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech breaks hand in fight with teammate

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Red Sox pitching prospect and 2014 first-round draft pick Michael Kopech fractured his pitching hand while fighting with a teammate, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports.

Kopech was previously suspended 50 games last season for the use of a stimulant, so the Red Sox are understandably frustrated by the 19-year-old right-hander’s behavior.

Here’s what general manager Mike Hazen said in announcing the injury:

It was stupid. He’s going to have to grow up, obviously, with the things that have happened so far. He’s got a long road to go to get to the big leagues. He obviously has a ton of potential. He’s got a long way to go. These types of things, you don’t want to put more barriers in front of you than playing professional baseball already presents you.

If nothing else, anyone who’s ever watched “Bull Durham” knows the key to any pitcher getting into a fight is to throw punches with your non-pitching hand. Nuke LaLoosh even seemed to grasp that concept.

Kopech spent last season at low Single-A and threw just 65 innings before being suspended, so he’s years from entering the Red Sox’s plans even if things go well. And they aren’t, to say the least.

No word yet on his expected recovery timetable, but Kopech is wearing a cast and won’t be back on the mound anytime soon. Again.

Yadier Molina hit off a tee for the first time since thumb surgery


Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina took a big step today in his recovery from a pair of thumb surgeries, hitting off a tee for the first time.

Molina told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch afterward that things went well enough that he plans to hit live pitching in a batting cage and possibly even catch in a game within the next week.

Molina initially had surgery in November to repair a torn thumb ligament, but then needed a follow-up surgery two months later. His uncertain status played a big part in the Cardinals signing backup catcher Brayan Pena to a two-year, $5 million deal after years of barely using backup Tony Cruz to give Molina time off.

Opening Day remains the goal for Molina, but it’s possible the 33-year-old seven-time All-Star will begin the season on the disabled list even if there isn’t a significant setback in the recovery process.

Giancarlo Stanton misses another day with sore knee

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For the second straight day Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is out of the lineup with soreness in his right knee.

Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that Stanton “arrived early to Marlins camp on Tuesday and he took part in a series of drills” to test his injured knee, but wasn’t able to convince the team that he’s healthy enough to play. He originally suffered the injury Saturday.

According to Frisaro “the general feeling is Stanton will be fine” and “the team is being extra cautious” by keeping him out of the lineup. Stanton did have surgery on the same knee in 2012, which makes it more than a typical day-to-day worry.

Stanton was limited to just 74 games last season because of a broken left hand and he’s missed an average of 48 games per season since playing a career-high 150 games in 2011.