Michael Wacha to start Thursday for the Cardinals

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Michael Wacha’s recovery from a shoulder injury has gone so well that the Cardinals just announced he’ll come off the disabled list to start Thursday against the Brewers.

Wacha made just one minor-league rehab start, throwing 34 pitches Sunday at Double-A, so he’ll be on a pitch count limit the first time out and will have to build back his arm strength in the majors.

Wacha last started for the Cardinals on June 17. He had a 2.79 ERA in 15 starts before being shut down, giving the 23-year-old right-hander a 2.78 ERA in 155 innings since debuting last season.

And now he’ll return to kick off a four-game battle for first place in Milwaukee.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.