Cardinals demote top prospects Shelby Miller, Zack Cox

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Any speculation that Shelby Miller might be the choice to replace Chris Carpenter in early April ended Wednesday with the Cardinals’ decision to reassign him to minor league camp.

Among the others also demoted today were fellow starter Brandon Dickson and third baseman Zack Cox.

Miller, one of baseball’s top prospects, went 11-6 with a 2.77 ERA between high-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield last season. He disappointed a bit with his velocity while allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings this spring, but given that he’s just getting warmed up, it probably isn’t something to worry about.

Dickson, 27, made his major league debut with the Cardinals last summer, allowing three runs over 8 2/3 innings in one start and three relief appearances. He’s another one of the team’s fallback rotation options this season, though a far less exciting one than Miller.

Cox, a 2010 first-round pick, was 2-for-9 with five strikeouts this spring. He and Miller were teammates for most of last season, with both moving up from the FSL to the Texas League partway through. They’ll likely both return to Springfield to start this season.

José Abreu undergoes lower abdominal surgery, expected out two weeks

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White Sox first baseman José Abreu underwent lower abdominal surgery on Tuesday, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. It was an outpatient procedure that is expected to keep him away from baseball activity for two weeks.

Abreu, 31, was held out of Tuesday’s lineup, his first day off in more than two months. This season, Abreu has hit a productive .272/.331/.491 with 22 home runs and 78 RBI in 526 plate appearances.

The White Sox will likely play Matt Davidson at first base and put Daniel Palka at DH while Abreu is out.