Author: Bill Baer

St. Louis Cardinals' Randal Grichuk watches his three-run home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
AP Photo/Tom Lynn

Randal Grichuk “ahead of schedule” in recovery from hernia surgery

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Per the Cardinals’ official Twitter, outfielder Randal Grichuk said he is “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from hernia surgery. He underwent the procedure in December but the Cardinals are expecting him to be ready for the start of spring training next month. Grichuk added that he is at a physical therapy facility every day.

Grichuk, 24, broke out last season, batting .276/.329/.548 with 17 home runs, 47 RBI, and 49 runs scored in 350 plate appearances. However, he spent a month on the disabled list between April 17 and May 15 due to a lower back strain and spent another month on the DL between August 17 and September 6 with a strained right elbow.

Grichuk is slated to start every day in center field for the Cardinals heading into the 2016 season.

Interest in Shane Victorino has been lukewarm this offseason

Los Angeles Angels' Shane Victorino swings for strike three against the Houston Astros in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 30, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
AP Photo/Pat Sullivan
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In his latest column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that free agent outfielder Shane Victorino has received inquiries from various teams, but interested parties are still waiting for the free agent outfielder market to thin out. Notably, Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton still remain unsigned.

Victorino, 35, has been injured for a majority of the past two seasons but claims to be completely healthy now. He played in a total of 101 games since the start of the 2014 season, batting an aggregate .246/.306/.329 with three home runs and 19 RBI over 337 plate appearances. When Victorino is healthy, he can typically be counted on for 25-30 doubles, 20-plus stolen bases, and above average defense in the outfield. However, he is certainly a question mark heading into the 2016 season.

The Indians had been reported as having interest in Victorino earlier this offseason. Outfielder Michael Brantley is expected to miss at least the first two months of the regular season after undergoing surgery in November to repair a torn labrum.

Yadier Molina will have his cast removed in February

Yadier Molina
Jeff Curry/Getty Images
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Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, recovering from surgery on his left thumb, will have his cast removed in mid-February, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Other than that, however, the Cardinals don’t have a timetable for their backstop.

Molina is expected to begin spring training rebuilding strength in his thumb and the Cardinals hope he’ll be ready by Opening Day on April 3. Until the club learns more about Molina’s condition, Brayan Pena will be penciled in as the starter. Pena inked a two-year, $5 million deal in November.

As a result of the uncertainty surrounding Molina, the Cardinals are still pursuing catching depth, but GM John Mozeliak called that process “difficult”. As Langosch notes, the only other catcher on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster is Mike Ohlman who has yet to play at Triple-A.

Mariners sign Travis Ishikawa to a minor league deal

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Travis Ishikawa hits an RBI-single off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias to drive home Neil Walker in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, in Cincinnati. The Reds won 4-3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo
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SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports that the Mariners signed 1B/OF Travis Ishikawa to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. If he makes the major league roster, he’ll earn a salary of $900,000, Cotillo adds.

Ishikawa, 32, spent the 2015 season with the Giants and Pirates but took only 72 plate appearances at the major league level. He hit .206 with one home run and eight RBI. The veteran battled back injuries throughout the year, as he had two stints on the disabled list.

Ishikawa memorably sent the Giants to the World Series in 2014 when he hit a walk-off three-run home run in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Cardinals.

Trevor Cahill turned down two years from Pirates to pitch in relief for the Cubs

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) during the seventh inning of Game 3 in baseball's National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
AP Photo/Paul Beaty
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How badly did Trevor Cahill want to pitch for the Cubs? According to pitching coach Chris Bosio, the right-hander turned down a two-year offer from the Pirates in which he would have been in a starting role and instead took a one-year deal to pitch in relief in Chicago, as CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Cahill was one of baseball’s top pitching prospects heading into the 2009 season but has failed to live up to expectations. He struggled in 26 1/3 innings with the Braves last season and was released in June. He signed with the Cubs in August and found success, posting a 2.12 ERA with a 22/5 K/BB ratio in 17 relief innings.

Cahill, who turns 28 in March, will earn $4.25 million this season and attempt to help the Cubs win the NL Central for the first time since 2008.