Albert Pujols won’t play in games before mid-March

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Albert Pujols declined to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic because he’s still recovering from offseason knee surgery and now it turns out he won’t be playing any spring training games for a while either.

Pujols told reporters today that he’s targeting mid-March for his Cactus League debut, which would give him about two weeks to get ready for the season.

Pujols’ knee surgery was called “minor” and there’s no indication that his status for Opening Day is in jeopardy, but four months after going under the knife his recovery is still an issue.

Marlins designate Derek Dietrich for assignment

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The Marlins designated utilityman Derek Dietrich for assignment, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. This comes amid a flurry of moves on Tuesday night as teams prepare their rosters ahead of the Rule 5 draft next month.

Dietrich, 29, is coming off another strong season in which he hit .265/.330/.421 with 16 home runs, 45 RBI, and 72 runs scored in 551 plate appearances. He played all over the diamond, spending most of his time in left field and at first base. Dietrich also played some second base, third base, and right field.

Dietrich is entering his third of four years of arbitration eligibility. He earned $2.9 million this past season and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $4.8 million in 2019. Cutting Dietrich represents a bit more than 4 million in savings for the rebuilding and perennially small-market Marlins. Dietrich should draw some interest, so the Marlins could end up trading him rather soon.

Wonder how J.T. Realmuto, now the longest-tenured Marlin, is feeling right about now.