Cardinals sign Scott Linebrink to minor league deal

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The Cardinals announced late this afternoon that they have signed reliever Scott Linebrink to a minor league contract which includes an invitation to spring training. B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest was the first to report the news.

Linebrink posted a solid 3.64 ERA and a 42/21 K/BB ratio over 54 1/3 innings with the Braves last season, although he was limited to just 14 appearances between August and September due to a lower back injury. He clearly enjoyed getting away from the American League and the hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field, but evidently that wasn’t enough to get him a guaranteed major-league deal.

The Cardinals already have plenty of quality options in their projected bullpen, so the veteran right-hander may have a tough time winning a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.