Yadier Molina leaves game with oblique injury

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Yadier Molina left today’s game after straining his oblique muscle running the bases. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that he legged out a double and then was on his way home on a David Freese single when Molina pulled up lame, exiting with a trainer by his side.
Jason LaRue replaced him and would step into the lineup as the Cardinals’ starter if Molina were to begin the season on the disabled list, but losing him would be a huge blow. Not only did Molina lead all of baseball by starting 136 games behind the plate last season, he did so while hitting .293/.366/.383 and throwing out 41 percent of steal attempts.
Beyond that LaRue turned 36 years old last week and is an awful hitter at this point, batting a combined .194 with a lowly .610 OPS in four seasons since losing his starting gig in Cincinnati. He’s palatable as a little-used backup, but if pressed into extended duty things could get ugly. Hummel speculates that Molina may only be out for a week or so, but oblique injuries are often tough to predict.

Fried, Braves go to salary arbitration for 2nd straight year

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Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves for the second straight year, asking for $15 million instead of the team’s $13.5 million offer.

The 29-year-old left-hander went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal in arbitration. That was after he pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.

Fried, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 World Series, had his case heard Friday by a panel that’s expected to issue a decision Saturday.

Players have won two of three decisions so far: Pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Miami Marlins. But Seattle defeated Diego Castillo ($2.95 million).

A decision is being held for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose case was argued Monday. About 20 more cases are scheduled through Feb. 17.