Former Giants, Pirates shortstop Jose Pagan dies at 76

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Jose Pagan, a native of Puerto Rico who played 15 seasons with three major league clubs, passed away Wednesday at age 76.  No cause of death was initially announced.

Pagan debuted with the San Francisco Giants in 1959 and finished 11th in the NL MVP balloting after hitting .259/.312/.359 with seven homers and 57 RBI as the team’s shortstop in 1962.

In 1965, he was traded to the Pirates for Dick Schofield and he went on to play eight seasons with his new team.  A superior hitter in his Pirates days, he had his best offensive season in 1969, hitting .285/.325/.453 with a career-high nine homers and 42 RBI in 274 at-bats.  He was a utilityman by then, but a very good one.  In 1971, he played a key role in the Pirates’ World Series victory, doubling twice and driving in two runs in his four appearances.

Pagan finished up his Pirates career in 1972 and had 80 at-bats for the Phillies the next year before calling it quits at age 38.  He ended his career with a .250/.298/.344 line, 52 homers and 372 RBI in 4,032 at-bats.  He went back to coach for the Pirates from 1974-78.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.