The Mariners designated John Buck for assignment

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The Mariners won last night but Seattle Times reporter Ryan Divish says the atmosphere in the clubhouse afterward was “similar to a 12-inning loss.” Why? Because, as Divish reports, the M’s designated popular veteran catcher John Buck for assignment.

Buck was hitting .226/.293/.286 with one homer in 84 at-bats this season. This is the sort of production they probably should’ve expected from Buck when they signed him to a one-year, $1 million deal back in January and they’re not likely to receive better production behind the plate from any internal replacements (they are likely to call up Jesus Sucre from Tacoma). But Divish notes that there were “concerns about Buck’s defense and receiving and blocking from the Mariners crew of hard throwers” among M’s brass, so he’s out.

This may bug M’s players and maybe some M’s fans. But, assuming those fears about Buck’s defense are well-founded, it’s the kind of around-the-edges improvements that teams in the playoff hunt make to improve their chances. Maybe Buck is still on the team is they’re a dozen games back of the wild card leaders. But that’s not where the Mariners are these days, and when you’re contending sometimes you gotta make tough choices.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.