Angels sign John Buck to minor league contract

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Veteran catcher John Buck was given his release by the Mariners earlier this month, but he didn’t stay out of a job for long. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com brings word that the Angels have signed Buck to a minor league contract. He has been assigned to Triple-A Salt Lake.

Used sparingly during his time in Seattle, Buck hit just .226 (19-for-84) with one home run and a .579 OPS in 27 games before being cut loose. The 34-year-old backstop batted .228/.288/.365 with 15 home runs and 62 RBI last season between the Mets and Pirates.

The Angels have Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger in place, so there’s no immediate need for Buck at the major league level, but there’s a pretty decent chance he could come up in September as a third catcher.

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.

Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”

Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.

Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.