Mark Ellis is back from a spring training knee injury, so the Cardinals have activated the veteran second baseman from the disabled list. And to make room on the 25-man roster they demoted last season’s starting shortstop, Pete Kozma, to Triple-A.
Kozma’s impressive 26-game rookie stint with the Cardinals in 2012 had some people convinced he could be a long-term solution, but nothing in his minor-league track record suggested that was the case and sure enough he hit just .217 with one homer and a .548 OPS in 143 games last year. St. Louis made upgrading shortstop a priority this offseason and replaced him with Jhonny Peralta.
Ellis signed a one-year, $5.25 million deal with St. Louis as a free agent and it’ll be interesting to see how much playing time he takes from rookie Kolten Wong at second base. Wong hasn’t hit much through 13 games, but he’s done a nice job controlling the strike zone and brings a lot more speed to the table at age 23. And he hit .303 with an .835 OPS at Triple-A last season.
Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN when the defending World Series champion Houston Astros host the Chicago White Sox on opening day.
Clemens made four appearances on last year’s KayRod Cast with Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. He will be stepping in on March 30 for David Cone, who will be doing the New York Yankees opener against the San Francisco Giants on YES Network.
“Roger has been sort of a friend of ours for the last year, so to speak, he’s in. He’s been engaged, knowledgeable and really present,” said ESPN Vice President of Production Phil Orlins. “You know, whatever past may be, he’s still tremendously engaged and he really brought that every time he was with us.”
Clemens was a seven-time Cy Young winner but his career after baseball has been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use. He is a Houston native and pitched for the Astros for three seasons.
Orlins said that with the rules changes and pitch clock, it is important to have a pitcher in the booth with Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez.
“We don’t feel like we have to have the dynamic of Eduardo with a pitcher, but we certainly think that works. Throw in the added factor of rule changes and it is better to have a batter-pitcher perspective,” Orlins said.
Orlins did not say if this would open the door for future opportunities for Clemens as an ESPN analyst.