Yadier Molina is four weeks into what was expected to be an 8-12 week recovery from a torn thumb ligament and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that “what we’re hearing is good” on the catcher’s status.
Matheny described it as “just healing time” right now and reiterated that Molina won’t return before September. He also said the team has had to keep Molina away from the ballpark at times because “we’re trying to keep him from going crazy … he wants to be out there so bad.”
After initially turning to Tony Cruz and George Kottaras the Cardinals have gone with A.J. Pierzynski as their primary Molina fill in. Pierzynski collected three hits in his Cardinals debut, but the 37-year-old Red Sox castoff has a .616 OPS in five games overall to match his poor production in Boston.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.