Skip Schumaker hoping to be available if Cardinals reach World Series

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In removing Skip Schumaker from the NLCS roster because of an oblique injury the Cardinals initially expected him to miss the remainder of the playoffs, but now the utility man is hoping to be available if they reach the World Series.

“There’s been a lot of improvement from then to now,” Schumaker told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “I wouldn’t have been as optimistic two days ago, or even yesterday, but if it continues to improve at this rate I think there’s a very good chance.”

Of course, Strauss notes that Schumaker “has yet to swing or throw since injuring himself” in Game 5 of the NLDS, so he’s far from a sure thing unless Tony La Russa decides to go the same route Jim Leyland did by playing a clearly still-injured Delmon Young.

In his absence the Cardinals started Ryan Theriot at second base in Game 1 and Nick Punto at second base in Game 2, with Jon Jay playing center field in both games.

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.