Report: Marlins plan to make “aggressive push” to sign Albert Pujols

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It was easy to be cynical about the Marlins in the early days of the Hot Stove. With their new name/logo/uniforms and stadium, many believed that their courtship of big-ticket free agents was all an elaborate publicity stunt designed to drum up season ticket sales. Well, now that they have landed both Heath Bell and Jose Reyes, it’s about time we take them seriously.

With that in mind, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Marlins plan to make an “aggressive push” over the next two days to sign free agent first baseman Albert Pujols.

Of course, the Marlins already made an offer to Pujols, though it was reportedly much lower than the one by the Cardinals (roughly $198-210 million over nine years, depending upon which report you read) way back in February. And that won’t get it done. They’re still a longshot here — all things being equal, he’d probably prefer to stay in St. Louis — but perhaps this is the leverage he needs to get the Cardinals to improve upon their offer.

By the way, the Marlins might not be the Cardinals’ only competition for Pujols. According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, other teams believe that the Cubs will make a push by offering Pujols a higher average annual salary over less years.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.