Rafael Furcal to begin minor league rehab assignment tonight

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The Marlins signed veteran infielder Rafael Furcal over the winter with the idea of using him as their starting second baseman, but he suffered a left hamstring injury during spring training and was forced to begin the season on the disabled list. According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, he’ll begin his road back to the majors tonight when he starts a minor league rehab assignment with Class A Jupiter.

Furcal only got 18 at-bats during Grapefruit League play, so the Marlins plan to have him stay in the minors for the maximum allotment of 21 days. That would set him up to be activated on May 6 against the Mets. Derek Dietrich and Jeff Baker will continue to share playing time at second base until he’s ready.

Furcal, 36, missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He hit .264/.325/.346 with five home runs, 49 RBI, and 12 stolen bases in 121 games with the Cardinals in 2012.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?