Link-O-Rama: Heel injury ends Scutaro's breakout season

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* Marco Scutaro’s career-best season is likely over after an MRI exam revealed a tear in the plantar fasciitis of his right heel. The injury comes at an inopportune time for the 33-year-old impending free agent, but hitting .282/.379/.409 with 12 homers, 35 doubles, 90 walks, and 14 steals in 144 games as the Blue Jays’ starting shortstop still figures to at least quadruple his current $1.1 million salary in 2010.
* Curt Schilling has officially decided not to run for Ted Kennedy’s vacant senate seat. “Regardless of the amount of support and outreach that’s been given to me, it just did not make sense,” Schilling said. Meanwhile, polling in Massachusetts suggested that he had little chance to win anyway.
* Team USA opened the World Cup final round yesterday with a 6-3 victory over Venezuela, who previously handed the United States their only loss of the tournament. Pirates prospects Pedro Alvarez and Brad Lincoln starred in the win.
* Flip Flop Fly Ball has a cool graphic showing how often the team with baseball’s best record goes on to win the World Series.
* Mariners fans are now free to go strip-clubbing around Safeco Field.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.